As a movie reviewer, we have our favorite genres of movies. Admittedly mine are the apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic stories of mankind adjusting or readjusting to a changed world due to global catastrophe, whether man or nature causes it. My favorites include the ‘Mad Max’ movies with Mel Gibson, the ‘Resident Evil’ movie series starring Milla Jovovich, and my best picture choice for 2009 “The Road”.
Academy Award® winner Denzel Washington stars as a ‘lone warrior’. From the opening sequence we get the telltale signs of a baron wasteland and the familiar ‘nuclear snow’ that indicates the aftermath of a cataclysmic event. All that remains are the remnants of the once orderly, thriving, society we know. The event that tore a hole in the sky and scorched the Earth happened some thirty years ago, resulting in a whole generation who never knew of the advances we had attained as humankind. Think the ‘Mad Max / Resident Evil’ condition of society and you’ll have a clear indication.
We join the ‘lone warrior’ in the midst of his ‘thirty year’ walk from the east to the west coast of what was once America. He encounters marauding groups along the way, in search of food, and other elements of survival, as we learn of his determination to get to the west coast. In his possession is a book, that one ‘pseudo’ leader (Gary Oldman) of a desolate area he controls, believes will give him the power to control, not with the iron hand force he exerts to rule, but by the power of words. The leader is older and has memories of the time so many years before, when one could influence behavior by ideology, and wanted access to the information in a particular book that he believed the ‘lone warrior’ had in his possession. It’s a battle of will and brawn with the determination of the ‘lone warrior’ to complete his journey on one side, and the ‘leader’s’ obsession who will stop at nothing, in his pursuit to possess the knowledge he believes is in ‘the book’.
“The Book of Eli” is a compelling film with layers of ‘food’ for thought when one thinks of the controlling factors in our lives today, that are based on ideologies, and the primary tool used to exert that control: “Words”…
I had the experience of working with director twin brothers, Albert and Allen Hughes, on “Dead Presidents” (1995) who are now stepping into the mainstream with their latest action/thriller, “The Book of Eli”. The cinematography got my attention, with a sepia tone washed out look at the start, which ever slowly, brightened to rich color, as the ‘lone warrior’ was getting closer to his destination. The scenic design, wardrobe, props, and other visual elements followed suit in the same fashion, which gives the viewer a psychological sense of hope as the ‘lone warrior’ neared his destination, nice touch. The action sequences are well staged and well placed, so, if it’s an action/thriller you want, you have it. Looking for a story with merit and mankind’s will to survive catastrophe with “mind, body, and spirit” in tact, it’s the underlying story. And Denzel Washington continues to mesmerize, add action actor to his impressive body of work!
Starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, and Jennifer Beals.
Directed by Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes; written by Gary Whitta; Warner Bros. Pictures release. Rated R for some brutal violence, and language. Runtime: 118 minutes.