“The Book of Eli”
Directed by: Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes
Starring: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis
Run time: 118 min.
Rating: 2 stars
“The Book of Eli” is a story audiences have seen in theaters plenty of times before: In a post-apocalyptic future, one man holds the key to civilization’s salvation. There are some interesting political and religious implications here, but overall “The Book of Eli” is reminiscent of “I Am Legend” and several other similar films.
In fact, it’s hard not to make comparisons to other more memorable movies. The set and costume design in “The Book of Eli” are reminiscent of “Mad Max,” although here they are tamer and certainly more boring by comparison.
There are some cool graphics—like a bombed-out valley—and even some neat shots. But the over-saturated filming style quickly grows old and makes the movie feel flat. Not to mention, it’s been done by every amateur filmmaker thousands of times. And no, this really doesn’t make it look more like a John Ford western.
There is a “twist” at the end that harkens back to almost any movie done by M. Night Shyamalan within recent memory, but this is no “Sixth Sense.” In fact, the twist is as implausible as the movie’s soundtrack, which is provided by an iPod in a world that lacks any electricity to recharge it.
Of course the Hughes brothers don’t have a lot of reputable credits to their name in the first place. Their curriculum vitae includes such forgettable movies as “American Pimp,” “Dead Presidents,” and “Menace II Society.” Frankly, with a resume like that, it’s a miracle they got the financial backing to pull in an actor like Denzel Washington (“The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3”).
Washington is the only thing that saves this movie from the obscurity the other flicks produced by this duo of directors have sunk into. His masterful performance is the only interesting thing about “The Book of Eli,” despite Gary Oldman’s (“The Unborn”) presence.
But still, the movie tries too hard to make Washington’s character a hero. This is what makes the movie fall apart: the ending. Most of the movie is tepid and passable, but the ending pushes it into the laughable. Even the parting cheesy walk-into-the-sunset shot of Mila Kunis (“Extract”) is overdone.
The premise of the movie (which can’t be divulged without spoiling it) is an interesting concept, but in the end “The Book of Eli” is highly derivative movie that soullessly plunders successful movies without gaining anything for its efforts.