Posted by: Dr P | January 30, 2010

Book of Eli

Apparently this is the 100th topic posted on this discussion board. If there’s anyone out there who’s waded through all 100, many congratulations – and sorry for all the ghastly jokes! Hopefully thee’s been some entertainment value in there too …

And what better way to bring up the milestone than with this most excellent movie. Set in a post-apocalyptic world (how many times have I said that of late?), Denzel Washington is the film’s central character, a man on a serious mission. We learn that he’s spent the best part of thirty years wandering around the wastelands of America trying to locate a mysterious place which will offer him answers to the puzzle he carries with him. It’s a bit like the characters in Monty Python and the Holy Grail looking for their prize … but with fewer coconuts.

As the film begins, we see a barren landscape, where human and animal life is scarce. Denzel travels around hunting for food and commences the action by shooting a cat with a bow and arrow. Awesome! The tremendous “miaoowww” and subsequent “thunnnnk” as the arrow spears the cat is magnificent – especially in Dolby surround sound!

We quickly learn three things.

1. Denzel is carrying a book, which he guards with his very life

2. Almost everyone he encounters is either looking to steal from him, kill him or eat him (and in some cases, all three). It’s a dreadful world, where everyone is out to scavenge what they can to survive. It’s very reminiscent of the world depicted in Mad Max. Or Bolton on a Saturday night.

3. Denzel is a lethal killing machine. In fact he could give Blade a run for his money in the “wielding of a very sharp sword to deadly effect” stakes. Cross him at your peril.

We soon meet another man intent on possessing the book, which we have now come to understand is the only surviving bible – following the nuclear holocaust, religion was blamed for the world’s downfall, and so every holy book was burned or destroyed, and “the Book of Eli” is all that is left. Tom Waits plays a local town leader determined to have the book for himself so that he can spread word to the masses and subjugate them. It’s a corking role, full of anger, temper tantrums, menace and some degree of horror. This is what Gary Oldman will look like in 20 years!

One of the local lasses soon takes a shine to our hero and accompanies him on his quest to seek out the final destination for the book. This doesn’t sit well with Waits, who orders his henchmen to pursue them and get the book at all costs. Of course this leads to all manner of carnage and devastation, with beheadings galore in one particularly brutal scene. The French Revolution would have been over a damn sight quicker with this fella in charge of the executions.

As Denz gets closer to his goal, there are some genuine “oh I didn’t see that coming” twists, with one particular revelation about our hero being utterly stunning in the context of what’s already happened – and you really won’t see it coming!

There’s also a great scene set in the house of an old couple who offer refuge for the travellers. The female role is played by our very own Frances de la Tour, and she’s truly funny as an insane cannibal! Worth the admission fee alone.

This was a terrific movie, and Washington is superb in his role, proving yet again what a fine actor he is. The supporting cast is also good, with Waits exuding menace and sliminess at every turn. Definitely one of the best films of recent months; the pace is fairly slow throughout, but it’s compulsive watching from start to end, and the final third will have you truly gripped. Bravo!

Denzel’s acting – 10
Denzel’s shades – 9
Denzel’s ability to kill anything that moves – 500
Cat getting speared – off the charts

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Responses

  1. Sounds like just my sort of film, I love the post apocalypse genre.


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