MATTHEW 10:34 “The Book Of Eli”, reviewed

Posted in Uncategorized by MOVIE, REVIEWED on January 16, 2010

MATTHEW 10:34 – “The Book of Eli”, reviewed

by Gregory A. Butler

When we first enter the world of Allen and Albert Hughes’ “The Book of Eli”, it’s 30 years after a great war where, according to our hero Eli (Denzel Washington, in one of his best roles), “they ripped a hole in the sky”.

The great solar flash that came through that hole killed most of the world’s population, blinded many of the survivors (a plot point which will become very relevant later on in the film) and reduced the visually impaired and sighted alike to a state of illiterate barbarism.

But in this harsh world where reading is unknown, Eli has spent the last 30 years roaming the ruined byways with a book in his backpack.

Not just any book.

THE Book.

Yes, THAT book – “the Holy Bible”

And not just any old Bible – but the last bible left in America (all the other copies were burned after the war – because that globally lethal conflict was caused by Christian fundamentalists)

But Eli’s no soft-spoken librarian – he comes not with peace, but with a machete.

And a sawed off shotgun.

And a 9 mm pistol.

And he is more than willing to use those arms against the many vile hijackers who roam the deserted roads, seeking to rob, rape, kill and eat (yes, you read that last part right) any travelers they encounter.

In his travels, Eli encounters a town run by the amoral warlord Carnegie (Gary Oldman – in a role that reminds you why he has played so many villains in so many films).

As it happens, Carnegie is seeking out the last copy of the Bible, to give a religious justification to his tyrannical rule, and he and his “road crew” goon squad are more than willing to kill for it.

Kill – or do other immoral stuff, like forcing his twentysomething stepdaughter Solara (Mila Kunis) to offer herself sexually to Eli.

But since he’s a decent man, who’s old enough to be her father, Eli turns the offer down – and instead shares a meal with her, teaches her how to say grace and gives her a glimpse of a moral world that she’s never known.

Eli flees town soon afterwards – with Solara as his first disciple – and continues his flight west, with Carnegie in hot pursuit.

I won’t spoil the rest of this very deeply moral martial arts adventure, because you really do need to see it “cold” with as little information as possible to appreciate it the most, but there is a plot swerve coming, hinted at by Eli quoting II Corinthians 5:7 to Solara – “for we walk by faith, not by sight”.

There is a whole lot to like in this film.

Like the fight scenes (reminiscent of the old 1970’s TV series “Kung Fu”) where Eli, a gentle and reluctant warrior, gives his enemies plenty of chances to back down and just let him leave in peace – but when his antagonists insist on fighting anyway, he dispatches them with fierce intensity.

And the decent and respectful way the Hughes Brothers – and screenwriter Gary Whitta – treated their female characters, most notably Solara.

There is no gratuitous nudity or soft core porno here – the female characters are here to move the story forward, not to titillate the male half of the audience.

Don’t get it twisted – I’m far from prudish and there is definitely a time and a place for sex and pornography in films (just not in moral allegories like this one).

Thankfully, the Hughes Brothers and Whitta understood that, and kept their female characters fully dressed.

I really enjoyed this film and I think you will too (even if you’re not a Christian).

On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 is unwatchably bad – 10 is incredibly awesome) I give “The Book of Eli” a 9.81


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