The Book of Eli (2010) – Film Review

Denzel Washington journeys west in The Book of Eli...

Thirty years after a devastating apocalyptic disaster that threatened life on Earth humanity has largely become violent and cruel in Albert and Allen Hughes’s The Book of Eli. Travelling west across America, carrying a book he believes can save the now ruined mankind, could Eli (Denzel Washington) really save what little is left of humanity?

Washington excels as the titular Eli. His isolation is instantly compelling and the little information behind the desolation that surrounds him simply adds to the intrigue. Watching him wash solely with KFC wipes sparks a curiosity that is slowly fed information throughout the film to tantalising effect. With his sole companion being the warming tones of Al Green (the film’s soundtrack is fittingly subdued after this) he journeys relentlessly stopping only to rest, forage or to tackle the pirates who reside along his path. His expert fighting skills set him apart from those determined on stealing his possessions.

What really makes The Book of Eli striking, despite its impressive story telling, is its overall style which helps to impact its message. The film’s faded colours add to the bleakness suffered from its characters whilst Eli’s oozing sense of cool makes him stand out from the straggly bit parts.

When he happens across a small village he stops to barter for water, now illusive in the parched American landscape. Having heard of Eli’s masterful fighting skills town leader and overall villain of the piece Carnegie (the masterful Gary Oldman) sets on employing him. Whoring daughter-like Solaris (Mila Kunis) to him to try and convince him to stay, Carnegie is quickly established a man with no morals. Eli refuses the proposition and quickly finds a companion in Solaris, no matter how hesitant he may be toward the idea.

When Carnegie hears that Eli carries a book he instantly wants it, in the vain hope that it is the book his search parties haven’t been able to locate. Eli escapes and, with Solaris in tow, sets on continuing his journey west. Problems inevitably arise, but Eli deals with them quickly and and efficiently. Women face the constant threat of rape in this bleak portrait of the near future whilst cannibalism is rife.

What is the book that Eli protects? The Bible, of course. Although faith is a key aspect of The Book of Eli, the film still manages to be unpretentious and packs a punch without being too preachy. The film’s finale is powerful and neatly contrasts the punishingly bleak future portrayed in the film whilst its exposition is a twist few will see coming.

Best performance: Denzel Washington.
Best line: ‘Stay on the path, it’s not your concern’.
Best song: Al Green – How Can You Mend a Broken Heart
Best fight move: We think getting an arrow through the penis has gotta hurt.
Most ironic moment: When Eli offers a mouse some cooked cat meat.
Watch this if you liked:
;Children of Men, Pitch Black, The Road

Kristen Stewart was set to play the part of Solaris.

Discussion feed

Up next in movies