Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

The Book of Eli


Review by Patrick Hodges

There have been many films over the decades that deal with the subject of “the end of civilization.”  Sometimes the end comes because of natural disasters, sometimes because of viral outbreaks, and sometimes because of war.  We join the story of The Book of Eli thirty years after war laid waste to the world, with the ragged remnants of humanity picking over the bones of society.

Enter Eli (Denzel Washington), a lone traveler wandering the land, carrying what seems to be the last bible in existence.  (The explanation for why it’s the only one is actually given.)  He also carries an assortment of weapons, and some quite impressive skills in using them, if you get my drift.  He is very quietly the biggest badass left on Earth.

Before long, Eli runs afoul of a man named Carnegie (Gary Oldman, back in his element as the scary villain), who desperately wants the book, convinced that its words will help to unite what’s left of mankind – under his guidance, of course.  On the run and with a young girl named Solara (Mila Kunis) in tow, Eli must find a way to get the book to the place where it was meant to be, a place that he is convinced God is leading him.

As action films go, this one was pretty good.  As dystopian dramas go, it was actually pretty cool.  And as a piece of entertainment, it’s probably as good as you’re going to get in January.  It really is good to see Denzel, now 55, can still throw one down with the best of them, something I haven’t seen him do since Man On Fire.  Oldman, who is one of those actors best known for playing bad guys (Dark Knight and Harry Potter notwithstanding), manages to tread the line between cool and cartoonish. 

Kudos to the Hughes Brothers, who directed Eli, their first outing since 2001’s From Hell, a quite underrated thriller itself.  If this film is any indication of their talents, let’s hope that we won’t have to wait another nine years to see it.

3 ½ / 5 stars

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