The Book of Eli (2010)
Directed by: Albert & Allen Hughes
Written by: Gary Whitta
Starring: Denzel Washington as Eli, Gary Oldman as Carnegie, Mila Kunis as Solara
Overall, I thought The Book of Eli was decent (not the best movie ever made, but not terrible either). It's gotten mixed reviews from critics, but I have a tendency to take movie reviews with a grain of salt because, well, people have different tastes. Not everyone is going to like the same things. Personally, I don't normally rush out to see post-apocalyptic movies because they're not really my style. However, I had to make an exception in this case in order to see Gary Oldman return to his roots and play a bad guy for the first time in ten (!!!) years. He certainly did not disappoint, but does he ever? (The answer you're looking for is "No," by the way.)
I'm getting a little ahead of myself, though...back to the movie. Visually, it was stunning. It was filmed almost entirely in New Mexico (somewhere outside Albuquerque, I think), so everything is sort of washed out...a lot browns and grays, and minimal other colors. It's the perfect movie to be shot in a desert for sure. I read and watched a couple of interviews with the Hughes brothers, Gary and Denzel, and they all mentioned that the film was inspired by those old westerns. You can really see that inspiration throughout the movie. Carnegie's town reminds me of one of those Old West frontier towns (complete with a saloon). So, if you're like me and don't like the post-apocalyptic theme, just think of it as a western.
There is a bit of a religious theme going on, so if you're not into that, this might not be the movie for you. Surely you've figured out by now that the book Eli's carrying is the Bible, right? I don't think any of the marketing has kept that a secret; it's pretty obvious. But I didn't really look at the movie as being at all about Christianity; it's more about having "faith" in general (whether that's a religious faith or a general faith in humankind or faith in yourself...or whatever).
There is a very interesting twist at the end of the movie, which I won't reveal here. I was sort of inadvertently spoiled earlier this weekend (Damn it!), and I feel like I would've enjoyed the movie so much more if I hadn't known the twist beforehand. So I'm not going to tell you guys, you'll just have to go see it for yourselves. Just think The Sixth Sense, only not as cool and without all the ghosts. Watch what is going on onscreen very carefully and you might be able to figure out the twist before it's revealed. Maybe. It's interesting, to say the least.
Okay, on to the acting. Denzel was great. He's 55 years old and he did all the martial arts work himself. Not too shabby. Gary was, well, perfectly evil. I wouldn't have expected anything less. He said in an interview recently that The Book of Eli is one of his favorite movies he's ever made, and you can actually tell on screen...he just looks like he's having a good time in the role. Mila Kunis held her own up beside those two titans of the big screen, I'm happy to say. I must admit I was a little worried about her at first: "Washington, Oldman...and the chick from That 70's Show!" She did okay, though. I think she's working on broadening her acting range, and you can't fault her for that at all. Good for her. Jennifer Beals was also excellent in a small-ish (but kind of pivotal) role as Carnegie's blind common-law wife. Other actors who make appearances: Ray Stevenson, Tom Waits, Michael Gambon (so good to see him as someone besides Professor Dumbledore), Frances de la Tour, and Malcolm McDowell.
I always say this about movies: I wish there had been more character development. I know it's hard to put a ton of backstory in a two hour movie, I realize this, but I want to know about more about Eli and Carnegie. Why do they do the things they do? Seriously, the movie would have been ten times better if I had just a little bit more background, I'm sure of it.