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Movie Review: The Book Of Eli

 
Prinz Lee image

Prinz Lee wrote this review 6 years ago

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Written 1/15/10

Unless you’re the type that really doesn’t care much about thinking and rather have everything served like a baby, than I really doubt you’ll enjoy this film.
Walking out of the theater I heard mumbles of “I don’t get it.” or “It wasn’t all that.” Okay, well maybe it wasn’t “all that” as we’re all different and find pleasures in other types of films, but for someone to come out and say they “didn’t get it…” clearly tells me one of two things… Either 1) they were NOT paying any attention. Or 2) If they were, I guess they didn’t read between the lines and missed out on what I think is one of the BEST post-apocalyptic films of our time. Sure '09 brought us Terminator: Salvation and The Road, but they weren’t as edgy or visually enticing as The Book of Eli. Perhaps these people are just mentally slow. Truth be told unlike “Bigfoot” or “The Lochness Monster,” these particular individuals DO exist.
I mean how can you fail with a story that starts off with amazing music, scenery, and sound blended with an ashy-like appearance that clearly resembles life after a treacherous happening? Followed by… (Never-mind… go see it!)
In the not-too-distant future, some 30 years after the final war, a solitary man named Eli (Washington) walks across the wasteland that was once America. Empty cities, broken highways, seared earth--all around him, the marks of catastrophic destruction. There is no civilization here, no law. The roads belong to gangs that would murder a man for his shoes, an ounce of water... or for nothing at all.
But they're no match for this traveler.
A warrior not by choice but necessity, Eli seeks only peace but, if challenged, will cut his attackers down before they realize their fatal mistake. It's not his life he guards so fiercely but his hope for the future; a hope he has carried and protected for 30 years and is determined to realize. Driven by this commitment and guided by his belief in something greater than himself, Eli does what he must to survive--and continue.
Only one other man in this ruined world understands the power Eli holds, and is determined to make it his own: Carnegie (Oldman), the self-appointed despot of a makeshift town of thieves and gunmen. Meanwhile, Carnegie's adopted daughter, Solara (Kunis) is fascinated by Eli for another reason: the glimpse he offers of what may exist beyond her stepfather's domain.
But neither will find it easy to distract him. Nothing--and no one--can stand in his way. Eli must keep moving to fulfill his destiny and bring help to a ravaged humanity.
It is without any saying that anything this man does is fucking gold. His talents are so on point and raw, I really don’t think I have any words to just describe the amount of power and essence he brings to the screen. Whether small or big, Washington’s actions always deliver a satisfying feeling of someone that REALLY takes his craft serious and doesn’t lay around just going through the motions so-to-speak. Much of this film’s credit obviously goes to him being the chosen one (no pun) to lead such a role that entails a bit of both which is basically everything and nothing at the same time. A term which might come up from time to time when actors are given direction and perhaps only they’ll understand, but it’s not as “easy” as some paint it to be… to date I believe “Eli” is one of the most driven ever. I’m not taking anything away from his performances in Malcolm X or Training Day, but with this latest piece… I actually think he put Will Smith to shame when leading on a solo-like basis. Its not fair to compare as both films The Book of Eli and I am Legend are on a different league in every way, shape and form, but they carried similar responsibilities… which is believing in their cause in order to help mankind’s existence.

Don’t fuck with Eli!
Now as much as I enjoyed Washington’s portrayal of “Eli,” I have to give just as much respect and kudos to Gary Oldman who’s another great actor that never ceases to fail with his work. I truly enjoy watching this man play a villain. I mean remember Murder in the first? Oh shit! Didn’t this man give you the creeps? Shit in this film he’s probably not as malicious-looking as he did playing a Warden, but as a self-proclaimed leader of a surviving group and implicating wanting to set his sights on possible growth of other surviving communities at the hand of Theological knowledge is beyond anything anyone can comprehend. Soft spoken, intelligent to the max, and topping that off with a presence of charm and charisma was as creepy as can be. In every way, this man I believe should keep playing villains. I like "Commissioner Gordon" in The Dark Knight, but he’s got a certain aura which oozes nothing but a sinister man. Let’s just say he’s done his acting homework as well.

Carnegie’s one of the most intelligent film villains ever.
Mila Kunis as “Solara” was also pretty charming. Always easy on the eyes and of all the main characters in the film, was the ONLY one who was faced with the challenges of growth through the film. Starting off as a poor little illiterate girl who knows nothing but pretty much serving as a puppet for her step-father’s community, gradually leaps into a soul-surviving individual who pretty much learns to pick up (roughly if I may add) on how to keep moving in a life so full of wolves and very little lambs. Never missing a beat to her character's objectives, Kunis has definitely grown from her That ‘70s Show TV show to her latest projects which include Forgetting Sarah Marshall or Mike Judge’s Extract. Her upcoming Black Swan should also be great to await as she’ll also flex her acting talents co-starring with another talent in Natalie Portman.

Solara contemplating more than one imagines.
Summarizing up the work from the above mentioned goes side by side with writing/direction which ties in to the twins known as The Hughes Brothers (Dead Presidents, Menace II Society and From Hell), their latest installment relates to much of what life perhaps may be like given the fact that either man-made or natural, our world as we know it comes to an end. As always their films tend to never miss a beat with messages and plots, this one doesn’t differ much from their past. There’s the typical protagonist and antagonist smear, but this time around there’s an amazing twist to which I totally recommend anyone watching this film focus on as much as they can. It unfolds cleverly towards the end. Its jaw-dropping conclusion subliminally says a lot of our humanity, outlook on faith as well as will and struggles in order to keep our beliefs (whatever they may be) alive. Many questions arise, but that’s pretty much concluded in our heads as we leave the theaters. Much respect to the Hughes Brothers.
I think I can honestly say this will be ONE of my top 10s this year. It serves the audience in many ways and its texture may be raw or perhaps offensive to some (not sure who, but I’m sure someone out there), but its presentation is uniquely compelling and intense. This IS most definitely a film for s/he who enjoys the art of film as a whole which lays out everything from mental stimulation all through emotional distress.

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