When I was out at Comic Con in San Diego last Summer
, not only had the chance to see Warner Bros.’ presentation for THE BOOK OF ELI
in Hall H, but visit with the cast and filmmakers afterwards. While the cast and talent behind the film was first-rate, nothing I saw or heard that day made me excited about this film.
Apparently, the vibe I was catching that day was on the money.
What the THE BOOK OF ELI claims to be and what is actually is are two different things.
It sells itself as a western-ish (ala Clint Eastwood’s THE MAN WITH NO NAME)/post-apocalyptic action flick (ala the MAD MAX films) amalgamation. On the surface -- thanks to its marketing campaign -- that’s exactly what it is.
However, if you dig a little deeper (i.e. actually see the entire film), you’ll discover that's simply a mask for what THE BOOK OF ELI is really about. Which, quite frankly, is a story about religion -- this particular religion through the eyes of the filmmakers, that is.
I won’t mention which religion, but it’s not hard to figure that one out.
Really, if the Hughes brothers wanted to make a film about religion and faith (and I'm not saying that that was their intent, but that's how this film comes off), then by all means make one -- and sell it as that. Don’t try to fool folks into thinking they’re getting some ass-kicking action flick when they’re actually not.
Look, this isn’t a shot at religion or anything like that, OK? They simply should have been upfront about what this film is all about, that’s all.
Eli (Denzel Washington) is the film’s hero. He has been walking from New York to Los Angeles for the last 30 years (Does it really take 30 years to walk that?) on a mission to bring “The Book” from the former to the latter city. Along the way, he kicks ass with both his fisticuffs and a big 'ol sword.
The bad guy of our story is Carnegie (Gary Oldman, returning to onscreen villainy). He and his cronies run a frontier town, that Eli just happens through, and he wants, of course, “The Book.”
It's Eli's job to deliver "The Book" to where it belongs; it's Carnegie's job to use it for power.
At that point, the plot turns into Eli protecting the book and praying, while Carnegie bitches about needing the book and plotting how to get it.
Bottom line, I just didn’t like THE BOOK OF ELI. I found it to be a muddled, disingenuous, and lackluster mess. Not only wasn’t I entertained, I certainly wasn’t "enlightened."
On a positive note, Mila Kunis looks really good. Enjoy!
"Jett" is the founder of BATMAN ON FILM.
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