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Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Book of Eli

(I'm going to be as vague as I can with any details on this film, but it's hard not to say anything without treading into *spoiler* territory. You have been warned.)

I had no expectations for The Book of Eli, other than I wanted to see it because it starred Denzel Washington, had Gary Oldman, looked to have striking visuals, and was from the guys behind Dead Presidents and Menace II Society.

In essence, the film is an different take on a missionary journey in a post-apocalyptic world. Washington portrays Eli, a drifter (a "walker") with a holy purpose, who is at cross purposes with a barren world; a struggling, devolved society; and the intent of his own mission.

The movie is tough. While not particularly gory, it is at times brutal, and briefly visually (and less briefly, thematically) unsettling.

Eli is front and center in the film, but shares time with the town baron he battles (portrayed by Oldman), a tag-a-long foil (Mila Kunis), the underrated Ray Stevenson (Oldman's lieutenant), and even a pleasant surprise performance from Tom Waits.

The cast is solid, with my only criticism being a meta one for Kunis (would someone that attractive really exist in a post-apocalyptic brothel?).

I'm surprised the film hasn't spun up more controversy on both sides (but maybe I'm just not paying attention). It has the potential to make Judeo-Christians uncomfortable with its portrayal of their faith, and the anti-religious expecting the non-religious post-apocalyptic film it's being marketed as irritated at the content (one couple did walk out muttering during my viewing of the film).

It's a worthwhile film I strongly recommend, if for no other reason than the discussions it could possibly engender (the top-notch acting and cinematography are extra perks).

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