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USA 2010
Directed by
The Hughes Brothers
118 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars

The Book Of Eli

Synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic world where everything is in short supply except for designer shades, there is one righteous man , Eli (Denzel Washington), whose mission is to deliver The Good Book to a place of safe keeping.

Aside from starring, Denzel Washington is credited as a producer on this film. Given his C.V., you’d be forgiven for expecting it to be a lot better than it is. A helluva lot better. The Book Of Eli is well-made enough, even impressively stylish in an MTV kind of a way. The main problem is that its makers, Albert and Allen Hughes, collectively known as The Hughes Brothers, haven’t had the wit to transform their cinematic sources into something interesting and we are left with the “so what” feeling that we’ve seen all of this before. Where? Well, try innumerable Westerns, Sergio Leone, of course, Quentin Tarantino and a bit of Takeshi Kitano’s Zatoichi, The Blind Swordsman thrown in for good measure.

The film appears to be speaking to an American, even more so Afro-American, religious fundamentalism. The unexamined premise upon which it is based is that The Bible (King James version) is a (The Koran gets a brief citation at the film’s end) Book of Wisdom, possession of which is a guarantee of righteousness, as long as, like Eli, one's received a calling.

On the other hand, Gary Oldman’s bad-ass wants to get Eli’s sole surviving copy so that he can bend the hearts and minds of the surviving populace to his evil will.  And so we get the usual pitched battle between Good and Evil with Eli the mythic outsider hero with lightning reflexes, a seemingly divinely-ordained ability to survive being shot and one heck of a memory. There are some reasonable, but not particularly well-done shoot-outs, ditto for the exploding vehicles, and what do you know but Eli acquires a side-kick (Mila Kunis) who looks like she’s just walked off the set of a teen movie and is set up at the film’s end to headline a sequel which I doubt will happen.

The Book Of Eli is the sort of film that has enough good bits to keep you hanging on but once it’s over, you'll wish you hadn’t.




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