The Book of Eli

I've been tricked a few times lately at the box office.   You know what I mean - movies that are hyped to be one thing, and then turn out to be something totally different.

Well, I just watched Denzel's The Book of Eli.  This thing is an apocalyptic action movie that ends up delivering as strong a message as most moviegoers can probably handle.

*** Disclaimer:  Please be advised - this is an action movie made in traditional Hollywood style.  The brutality and the language in this movie give it an "R" rating - so my boys won't see it until I can rent it and play it at home on ClearPlay.   If you're uncomfortable with knife fights, gun battles and realistic depictions of death, then apocalyptic films like this are not for you. ***

Denzel appears as Eli, the stereotypical Mad Max character.  Sure, Max is in there somewhere.  But Eli's older, humbler and has a curious singleness of purpose about him.  He's all that, of course, mixed with echoes of Clint Eastwood and Bruce Lee.

He's traveling west across a post-nuclear-war America with a particular book - one he reads from every night.  This book holds, in his mind, the key to the recreation and restoration of mankind after the near annihilation of civilization.

Gary Oldman plays Carnegie - the antagonist - the power figure in a small western town who's bent on finding the book.  Carnegie sends his gang of thugs on regular but unsuccessful reconnaissance missions to find a copy, killing and pillaging as they go.

Whether it's serendipity, fate or Providence - Eli and Carnegie meet.  And in the tension between these two, the message of Eli is unveiled.      

Maybe I didn't dig hard enough for reviews before I went and saw Eli.  Maybe I didn't pay enough attention before I walked through the door tonight.  OK, I admit it - I didn't do my customary homework before we watched.

So I found myself at first thinking "Nah, he can't be going there...".  Then a bit later, "Not possible.  No way is this thing moving in that direction...".  Then, when it really began to unfold, I'm mentally shouting "NO STINKIN' WAY THIS MOVIE'S GOING THERE!"

And then, sure enough, it did.

It did, in a way I've never seen done by any movie before.  There was no way out - straight up and in our faces - BOOM.  Crystal clear - no one's gonna miss the message of this film.

But it's not just Eli's message itself - the story line spins interestingly as well.  You get a one-two punch consisting of an unexpected plot twist, along with a hidden element of Eli's character you're hit with near the end.


I'm often in the minority on movie opinions.  So my guess is that the average moviegoer will not like this movie.  I'll go one step more and predict that you'll either love it or hate it - there's no middle ground.

And frankly the ol' Hollywood switch-a-roo marketing trick is usually a real turn off to me as well.  But this time the surprise was not only pleasant, but because of my worldview and because of what I'm living my life towards - it was downright invigorating.

My hat's off to Denzel for The Book of Eli!


ExtemeGadgetGuy said...

Mike--Great review. I, too, was amazed that they actually "went there" with this movie. It was absolutely unexpected from a true "Hollywood" action movie.

I don't know who was behind this movie or their motivation, but the results are amazing.

Mike Aleckson said...

Thanks Jeff. Subtleties from the movie keep drifting into my conscious thoughts today. Man!

Sheryl said...

Mike, I totally agree with you, couldn't have said it better, I also was a very captured audience as the story was unfolding and totally amazed! Shocked was another good word! Loved it, it was an awesome movie for the message and that fantastic actor Denzel. It was a pleasant surprise.

Lowell said...

Hey Mike,

This movie is for sure on my list. I've been curious about the possible "christian" elements in the movie. I feel like this interview with the director can shed some new light on this.

Ellliiieeetttt:) said...

i saw this with my dad, ithoughtit was a greattt movie! :)