The Book of Eli Review - a futuristic Western

The dusty landscape opens to reveal a world 30 years post major disaster that has virtually destroyed the earth.  A lone man, Eli ( Denzel Washington) travels along the road, scavenging where he can.  At night, alone, he takes a book out of his pack and reads it. 

Eli: Eli (Denzel Washington) camps out for the night.

Ambushed by bandits, he shows remarkable skill in his lethal abilities defeating five men at once. 

Eli -Carnegie (Gary Oldman)

Wandering into a make shift town that is run by Carnegie ( Gary Oldman), this solitary man confronts the corrupt sheriff and his maniacal deputies.  Carnegie seeks a special book and when he finds out that Eli not only reads but has superb killing skills, he offers him a job. Eli rejects this.  He relates that he has been walking 30 years since the disaster because he had this voice that told him to walk west and deliver a book. 

Eli: Denzel Washington evaluating the town

This is the same book that Carnegie has been seeking – the last copy left of the King James Bible.  Apparently after the destruction, everyone threw their bibles into the fire because they assumed that caused the disaster.  Eli rescued the last one.  Carnegie feels that by possessing the Bible and hence the Word, he will be able to better control the people of this town and others that he plans on building. 

Eli: Denzel Washington and Solara (Mila Kunis)get to know one another

Eli escapes with his Bible and reluctantly takes along a young girl from the town. Solara ( Mila Kunis) who leaves her mother, Claudia ( Jennifer Beals) back in Carnegie’s clutches.  The couple take refuge with Martha ( Frances de la Tour) and George ( Michael Gambon.)

Determined to find the book, Carnegie and his henchmen Redridge (Ray Stevenson) chase them down.  Injuring Eli, Carnegie grabs the book and the girl.  Solara makes good her escape and returns for Eli. 

Even though they don’t have the book, they continue out west and reach San Francisco. There a colony has collected all the books but the King James Bible.  From memory, Eli recites the words – and then we learn that he is blind.  (Which makes his skills of defense even more astounding.)

Eli: Denzel and Mila say Grace for the first time

Cinematographer Don Burgess did the film in black and white or sepia mostly to give the feeling of desolation.  Roads are lined with remnants of the prior civilizations, but if it’s been thirty years more bodies would have been buried and more things would have been rebuilt. Instead, the murder, rape and mayhem rule as if the disaster only happened last month.  Color and texture were also contributed to by designer Gae Buckley.

A futuristic Western, the Book of Eli is the first film in nine years from the Hughes brothers, Allen and Albert.  Written by Gary Whitta it was produced by Alcon Entertainment and Silver Pictures. The producers were Broderick Johnson, Andrew Kosove, David Valdes, Steve Richards, Susan Downey, and Erik Olsen.

Not even the great acting of Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman could, in my opinion, rescue the movie.

This film will probably be embraced by Christian movie goers since it depicts the bible as a point from which a new civilization can be started but the simplistic comic book movie was slow. Mad Max or Waterworld, both post disaster films, it was not.  

Opening in theaters January 15th, get more information at

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