Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Book of Eli - Post Apocalyptic Film Review

This was quite a different film to what I expected. I was expecting a balls to the wall action film, but while there is quite a bit of action (cool action I might add) the film is more spiritual, and religious, and not meat-headed like I had assumed.

The film is a cross between the game Fallout 3, and the film The Passion of Christ (haven't seen it, but it's the only religious film that came to mind). Denzel Washington stars as a middle aged man called Eli on a journey in post apocalyptic America (around 2030). He is on a mission to head west, woe betide anyone who gets in his way. He runs across a small town ship under the control of Carnegie; a middle aged man (expertly played by Gary Oldman). Carnegie is desperately searching for a special book. Having lived before Armageddon he is one of the only people left who has the ability to read, he recognises the power of the book he is seeking, and that it's power will allow him to expand his empire as the books words have the ability to touch peoples souls. He has not been too successful in his search so far, as the gangs he sends out into the wasteland to find the book are unable to read, and so don't know what they are looking for. It's not really a spoiler to reveal that the book he is searching for is the Bible. It just so happens Eli's most prized possession is a Bible, and so begins violence and bloodshed.

It seems in the films world Armageddon was caused by a World War that resulted in the ozone layer being completely obliterated and billions perishing by the suns glare, the planet itself slowly turning into one big desert. The survivors blamed the war on religion, so all Holy books were hunted down and destroyed. 30 years later and most the population know nothing but the arid wasteland, all technology vanished. This leads to some comedic moments, the best being when Oldman tells one of his Stooges to check behind a TV. The henchman looks confusingly at Oldman and says "what's a TV?" to which Oldman rolls his eyes. In this world knowledge is power, both Eli and Oldman being powerful due to things they have retained from pre Armageddon, the old rule the young.

Eli is not a violent person in nature, but he is able to defend himself when no other choice exists, an expert at close quarters combat, and an expert marksman. Guns are plentiful in the world, but bullets are rare, so most the gunners are poor at shooting. The most precious commodity is water, money no longer has any meaning, bartering is what matters. The film is really well shot. Reminded me of Fallout 3; all greys and browns, no colour anywhere. The action scenes are fantastic, a highlight being a gunfight out in the wasteland, lots of action, but always with the endlessness in the background given a real sense of insignificance to the characters, and just how lost they all are.

The plot is a simple, almost a Western style one, Denzel like a Client Eastward character, but is expertly done. The loneliness of the world is really reflected in the vast vistas, and the lack of hope the population have for anything other than survival. There is a fantastic plot twist that I never saw coming towards the films end, though I'm sure it creates a lot of plot holes with it's arrival, though a lot of stuff does stand up to the revelation.

Fantastic acting from Oldman and Washington, a damn attractive female lead, and beautifully shot. Well worth a watch.


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