Directors: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes
Writer: Gary Whitta
Stars: Denzel Washington, Mila Kunis and Ray Stevenson
Faith - the weapon and the remedy.
In 2001 Hughes brothers made “From Hell”, hugely underrated, gothic thriller with fantastic atmosphere and great visual side. 9 years later they made another film - “The Book of Eli”. The movie takes place after the apocalypse, caused by the war provoked by religious differences. Eli (Denzel Washington) is the only person in the world who has Bible in his possession. He claims he hears the voice of God who tells him where to go. Eli protects the book, which will meet huge difficulties when he meets Carnegie (Gary Oldman) founder of one of the few towns existing in the post-apocalyptic world. Carnegie thinks the Bible is a weapon, a tool he can use to manipulate the people.
The movie bears huge resemblance to “The Road” - depressing landscape, cannibalism, rapes, total fall of morality. Except as “The Road” remains excellent movie, “The Book of Eli” is more engaging – more characters, more events, more secrets.
Eli is actually a name borrowed from The Bible, he is somewhat of the prophet in the movie, introducing the Bible to the ones he trusts – like Solara, daughter of Carnegie's concubine. The message of the book, let alone few paragraphs from it enchants Solara and Eli's kindness persuades her to join him in their journey.
I loved the concept of what caused the apocalypse – the war caused by differences between religious people. Eli believes he carries the hope of humanity with him, but on the other hand he also carries what led to its demise. Yes, religion is the basis for the morality of many, especially weak and vulnerable, who cannot find it in themselves. But on the other hand, throughout the ages it caused wars, bloodshed and cruelty. Maybe it has to go hand in hand – kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, connecting to others and destroying them. People are weak and they are prone to disagreeing with others, instead of listening and reaching compromises. They will always be like this, therefore there will always be religion – in the world of fear it offers hope for better place, for someone looking after us.
And so it happens in the movie – Eli mentions that after the war the light came on Earth from the sky, destroying things. I didn't understood that other than God himself intervened. So he does with Eli – with the voice he hears, with special abilities he has.
I liked how the landscape and locations looked in the movie. It truly looks like what world may look after the awful cataclysm. In most of the movies about the end, we get to see happy ending, people being joyful about the fact they survived. And that's how those movies always end. In “The Road” and “The Book of Eli” we get to see what happens next and that's the best and most unique thing about those movies.
The movie centers around four characters – Eli, Solara, Carnegie and Solara's mother. Denzel Washington is very convincing playing Eli. He both tries to live by the rules of the book, but kills people in order to survive. He doesn't help others who need him, but then he changes that. He is capable of violence, but also of taking care of others. However, he was so detached throughout the movie it was hard to feel much sympathy for him, so my sympathy shifted to Solara.
Mila Kunis really surprised me in that movie. I read that part was originally offered to Kirsten Stewart and as much as I like her as an actress, it's a good thing Kunis ended up being in the movie. Stewart can play strong, independent characters but we always expect someone to rescue her. Mila managed to portray tough girl, smart and interesting. One of the reviewers compared her to Michelle Pffeifer. I think he exaggerated but there is something to it – I will agree Kunis is both sassy and sexy. Oldman plays villain perfectly again and Solara's mother Claudia is played by Jennifer Beals, whom I missed seeing since “The L word” ended. Malcolm McDowell and Tom Waits also make an appearance
The movie is certainly not a masterpiece and it contains rather unnecessary twist – the execution of this one could be better, therefore making it more shocking. However, the twist brings even more religious elements to the story and given the importance the filmmakers attached to the Bible in this one, maybe after all it was a good move. But the execution was poor – just take a look on IMDB board – people are very confused there and with the twist it's like with a joke – it's not as good when you start to explain it.. The film is definitely less boring than “The Road” - sorry by watching that one was like walking on that road yourself – and has some great scenes and interesting concept. I'd recommend it to any fan of post-apocalyptic movies and I can only hope Hughes brothers will make movies more often.