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The Book Of Eli

Mike Hinshaw - Friday, April 23, 2010

This month I will review a great movie, The Book Of Eli, starring Denzel Washington (Pelican Brief, American Gangster), Mila Kunis (Max Payne, Boot Camp), Gary Oldman (Dark Knight, Batman Begins), Jennifer Beals (Flashdance, Runaway Jury).  
Denzel is a loner traveling across the nation, heading west with a book.  We see him early on take on a band of bad guys, and realize he is not just a weary traveler, he has some real fighting ability.  In fact, in real life, Denzel worked out for 6 months to get into the shape he needed for this movie.  In this back pack he carries a book, and it is pretty important to him.  We are not sure why he is guarding the book until he comes into a town run by Gary Oldman.  Gary realizes he has a book, the book that can give power to the owner.  So he tries to take Denzel’s book, which turns out to be the Bible.  Gary is a fine actor, plays the role of the tortured villain very well.  He has the town under his control, but needs this one book to satisfy his longing for real power.  He believes if he has a Bible, he will be able to command nations, not just towns.

Denzel travels into Oldman’s town, where he controls the water.  Apparently whoever controls the water, controls the town.  He has gangs of thugs running across the territory, taking whatever they want.  Denzel gets into a couple of fights with these guys, he takes them down fast.  Just be aware, it is a fairly graphic movie, May did not see it with me, lots of arms getting cut off, that sort of thing.  He ends up having to get some water, things go south on him fast.  Oldman is the ultimate bad guy.  Just watched The Professional, with Natalie Portman as a 12 year old hit girl, Oldman as a crooked cop, it was outstanding.     
So Oldman takes Denzel captive, holds him in a cell, trying to get his book.  He sends in Mila, the daughter of Jennifer Beals (playing Gary’s blind girlfriend) to get close to Denzel, get control of the Bible.  It doesn’t work.  I am not sure why Denzel never gets the girl, he is just meant to play the lone hero, never gets to ride off into the sunset with a woman by his side.  So he impresses the girl with his integrity, and treats her like a gentleman, something pretty rare in those days.  OK, in these days as well.  Incidentally, Jennifer Beals plays a great part as Gary’s live in woman friend.  She is blind, but still has that screen presence she had in Flash Dance,  
 In one of the more incredible scenes, we have a shoot-out right there on the main street, that Denzel can handle a weapon.  Or at least that would seem to be the case, he is outnumbered several to one, does an outstanding job defending his book.  Mila decides to leave with Denzel, so they are on the run.  Not much of a contest, they are on foot, Gary and his men have a selection of war vehicles, think Mad Max, and they quickly go after the two.  They end up at a home owned by a couple of older folks who just happen to have a ton of weapons at their grasp, and a huge gun battle ensues.  But Gary has even more gunpower, Denzel gives up the Bible rather than see Mila killed.  We then see what happens when the wrong people take on the wrong guy.  There are good chase, capture and evade sequences, lots of action.  If you like guns, things blowing up, bad guys getting what they deserve, it works.  
Ends up with a twist, and I won’t give it away.  Just stay for the end, it will surprise you.  A couple of themes come into focus at the same time.  I will go with 4 bands of weary travelers, 4 out of 5 is good.

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