Saturday, 15 January 2011

Film Review: THE BOOK OF ELI (2010)

Directors: Albert Hughes & Allen Hughes
Running time: 107 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

UK release date: 15th January 2010

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 15th January 2011.


I saw this when it came out in the cinema and quite liked it. Now it has come round on TV I thought it might be worth a second viewing. This film is about the quest of one man to get a book to the place it’s supposed to be, to use his words. Now, I’m not a religious man but I can see the value this book might have in a world torn apart by war. It is a post-apocalyptic world, thirty years after it was destroyed. Those that were not killed scratch a living out of what’s left, and many have turned to cannibalism. Many were blinded by the flashes in the sky but survived. As stated in the film, after the war people destroyed the bible blaming it for what happened, but Eli has the last remaining copy. Now you know the set-up, here’s a brief summary before I give you my thoughts (summary haters please don’t touch Eli… not if you want to keep your hands that is… and wait here while I write the next paragraph).

Always moving west, Eli is a loner on the road. Like everyone out there he knows it’s a very dangerous place. He kills animals for food and gets clean water where he can. When set upon by hijackers but Eli is a ferocious fighter and thus far has come out on top. One day he wanders into a small town run by Carnegie, a determined man who has been sending out men in search of a particular book, the very one Eli has in his possession. Carnegie has a mother and daughter, Claudia and Solara in his entourage, Claudia was blind from birth, but Solara is sighted. In trying to persuade Eli to stay, as he can see the value of a man who can fight like him, he sends Solara to his room and she discovers the book. Carnegie finds out about the book and sends his henchman, Redridge to get it but Eli has already gone. Eli starts heading west again only to find Solara following him. Redridge wants Solara and makes a deal with Carnegie to get the book in exchange for her. And now the chase is on, will Eli and Solara escape or will they be caught? I think that’s enough for now.

This film was shot in a similar way to 300 (2006) with a kind of washed out comic book feel to it and, for me, it looked a bit too artificial in places. A lot of the landscapes were CGI which didn’t come over too well on TV. Great performances from all of the leading cast, Denzel Washington as Eli, Gary Oldman as Carnegie, Mila Kunis as Solara, Ray Stevenson as Redridge and Jennifer Beals as Claudia. Honourable mentions also go to Frances de la Tour and Michael Gambon as Martha and George, a mad old couple who Eli and Solara find on their travels.

Although it’s a fairly straightforward story I found it a very entertaining and compelling film to watch, the 107 minutes went by pretty quickly, which is always a good sign. It did get a bit bogged down in the middle, but redeemed itself with a totally unexpected twist at the end. Don’t worry; I’m not going give that away here. Also a haunting soundtrack backs up the visuals to great effect. Over all, although it’s not been well received everywhere and although not perfect, it’s a good effort… Recommended.

My score: 7.3/10

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