Release Date: January 15th, 2010
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Thirty years after a nuclear attack turned the world into an apocalyptic wasteland, a wanderer named Eli(Denzel Washington) travels across the scorched grounds of what was once America with nothing more than the pack on his back and a very special book in his hands. Driven by a desire and hope for the future, as well as a belief in something greater than himself, Eli has carried and protected his hope until he can finally reach the east coast where he believes his dream of a future can be turned into a reality.
For thirty years Eli has believed in this hope and for thirty years nobody has tried to stop him until he wanders into a makeshift town of thieves, beggars and gunmen under the leadership of Carnegie(Gary Oldman), the only literate man in the entire area. Eli enters Carnegie's bar in search of water and is attacked by some of Carnegie's men. But the drunken outlaws are no match for Eli, who has become a warrior by necessity instead of choice.
Carnegie, being a literate man, forces his henchmen to go out into the wastelands and look for any books they can find with a specific book in mind. After Eli deals with the outlaws, Carnegie realizes that Eli is also a literate man and forces him to stay at the bar for the night. But Eli soon realizes that Carnegie wants his book as it is the one he has been looking for since the final war. But Eli is determined to complete what he believes he must do and will let nothing, not even Carnegie and his outlaws, stop him from completing his journey.
We've seen post-apocalyptic films in the past, many of which have the same generic plot. Directed by the Hughes brothers, this film, however, delivers a completely new spin on how things would be in a world obliterated by war. In many cases, you have a single character just trying to survive in the apocalyptic world or maybe even becoming brave enough to create law (i.e. Mad Max) or save some poor imprisoned people. The Book of Eli, though, sets the audience on a path of righteousness and hope amidst impossible odds.
The story is what got me on this one because, for the most part, it was pretty mysterious. You always had a vague idea of what Eli was doing and what his mission was but it seemed like you could never quite grasp the full spectrum of it which keeps you hooked for the entire film. For a movie with this kind of setting to be good, there has to be a good plot, one that keeps you guessing and interested until you see the credits role and that is exactly what The Book of Eli does.
In addition to a good story, the mechanics of your movie also have to be entertaining. For example if its a comedy, the jokes have to be funny, if its a drama the emotions have to be real. This movie has a more action based focus. Throughout the whole movie Eli carries with him a handgun, a modified shotgun, a bow with some arrows and a razor sharp machete/sword thing and he isn't afraid to use them. In this film, we see Denzel Washington engage in fighting unlike he as in any other movie, and it works. In all the fight scenes Washington is outnumbered at least 5 to 1 but is able to quickly dispatch every foe without taking a scratch. On screen the fight scenes looked really cool. My only gripe would be that at times the camera moved to fast and in one scene you really only see the silhouettes of the people instead of the people themselves. But it is a very small complaint and one that is more personal preference.
I am a big fan of Denzel Washington and a huge fan of Gary Oldman so needless to say I was excited to see both of them in this film. Oldman gave a great performance as the desperate yet intelligent head of the makeshift town. He had this cunning style about him and this intellectual prowess that, even though he was physically small and nonthreatening, made him extremely powerful and feared. His performance was truly creepy at times but was overall very very well done, as are most of them. Washington brought a different character to the screen then we have typically seen from him. The wanderer character that Washington portrayed was a fresh take for me and it seemed that it was one that Washington truly enjoyed playing. His performance was passionate and it seemed that he put 110% into creating the character. I was very impressed and moved by Washington's performance and definitely think it was one of his best. Mila Kunis did a good job as Solara, the stepdaughter of Carnegie as did Jennifer Beals who played the blind mother of Solara and wife of Carnegie.
Visually the movie looked great. The settings and the look of the war-ravaged streets and buildings was really something to look at. One scene that stands out in particular was in the very beginning of the film. A hairless, skin-and-bones cat walks around a dark, wooded area filled with dead bodies. Ash from the nuclear blast is still falling from the sky and everything looks dark and dead. It was visuals like this that made the film really nice to look at and it really gave you a sense of what life in a post-apocalyptic world would be like.
But probably the best thing about this movie was the twist at the end. In some movies, they try to throw in a twist and if you pay close enough attention you can generally figure it out pretty easily. But in this film it really smacks you in the face and makes you go "whoa, I did not see that coming". And what really makes it even better is that after seeing the twist, you will think back to certain points in the movie and realize whats going on which will shock you even more. Truly, this was one of the best surprises in a movie I had ever seen. It truly did leave me speechless.
Overall this movie was amazing. It had a fantastic plot, great action, incredible acting and a twist that leaves you stunned. Add that to an interesting and long-over-due take on an apocalyptic scenario and you have a recipe for success. 2010 is already starting off to be a good year for film goers.
I give The Book of Eli 9 Incredible plot twists that will leave you speechless out of 10
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