THE BOOK OF ELI


2009

7/10

DIRECTOR: The Hughes Brothers

I had fancied this from as far back as it’s initial release, but I was also somewhat wary, as these kind of post-apocalyptic films tend to have a very limited canvas.  Did this break the mold? To some extent, yes it did. The action sequences were nothing short of breathtaking, in both the action itself and the style in which they were directed.

There was a ponderous and dower tone to the whole film, with Eli, Denzel Washington, a nomad who had been walking the earth for the three decades which had followed a nuclear war, so it appears, on his way to the west coast to deliver a book, possibly the last copy of this title in existence.

Carnegie, Gary Oldman is the leader of one of the only real settlements to appear in the film, who is after the book, as he harbours the belief that it has the power to secure his authority and unite what is left of civilisation and inspire them to rebuild.

Overall, much of the story and its twists and turns are telegraphed, but some are well played and came as a total surprise, well to me anyway, though the clues were there… enough said.

This was also a film about walking. Walking the deserts of a dead earth, surrounded by bleak but sweeping scenery, including what appeared to be nuclear blast craters, and all credit to them for trying to shoot walking in as interesting and a divorce a way as possible; When all’s said and done, walking is just that. He walks; she walks; and then they walk, in ponderous tone, slow motion with a thunderous rock styled soundtrack pounding away, another good choice by the way. But for me, there may have been just a tad too much… walking.

The performances were outstanding in parts and at worst, were very good, lending weight to the narrative, and the excellent visual style and sound design. The only issue I had with was that it was still mired in that post apocalyptic curse of failing to break free of the limitations. The world has little in it, there are but a few socio-economic elements to play with, and as such, the story is driven down some very narrow lanes.

This was certainly one of the best of this genre but I still feel that the genre needs something of a breath of fresh air, and though it made a valiant effort, ‘Eli’ didn’t pull it off entirely.

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