January isn’t usually a month with the best theatrical releases, so it’s always great seeing one that bucks the trend.
“The Book of Eli” follows the titular character played by Washington. Taking place in a post apocalyptic world, Eli is a wandering warrior trying to go out west and deliver a book. Along the way, he has to avoid and fight off groups of other survivors.
As the film goes on, Eli gets into a small town run by a man named Carnegie (Oldman). Carnegie seems to want to partner with Eli at first, but the two eventually enter a conflict as Eli is unwilling to relinquish a prized possession.
“The Book of Eli” fantastically brings western and samurai story aspects into a sci-fi setting, ultimately making an exciting and fresh action picture. There’s the ‘man with no name’ type character, a wandering fighter just passing through a small town with a corrupt leader, it’s simply classic.
The movie also brings up the topic of religion and how different people view it and interperat its use in society. This is mainly seen through the characters Eli and Carnegie and their opposing sides on how to use religion and it adds another layer to the film overall. This isn’t to say the movie is an overbearing religious picture, though, because it’s far from it. The aspect of religion here is used as point to push the plot forward, rather than to convince an audience of something.
This film likely wouldn’t have worked as well as it did, though, if it wasn’t for the performances. Fortunately, the film features Washington who gives a solid performance. While it’s not up there with some of his award worthy material, Washington still has a ton of screen presence, offering charisma, charm and a sense of righteousness to his character.
Oldman was also fantastic as the villain Carnegie, providing a perfect opponent to Eli. In this future, Eli and Carnegie are two of the older survivors and they both have a higher intellect than those around them, but they disagree on a number of matters. Oldman really sells this character, who on the surface seems like a civilized business man but is far more deadly and corrupt.
Another fantastic aspect to the movie is the action. As previously stated, the movie takes elements from western and samurai films, and this includes the combat. Eli both fights with a big machete that’s practically a sword and he also has some exciting shootouts.
“The Book of Eli” is a really strong, exciting action film that pays homage to multiple genres and is raised up more by its veteran actors. 4 out of 5.