I’ve been intrigued by The Book of Eli ever since I read that Denzel Washington was trained in the martial arts by Bruce Lee’s protégé Dan Inosanto in order to pull off the fighting scenes. This is just as much of a spiritual movie as it could be a samurai film. The movie starts off with Eli walking down a road when he confronts a gang of thieves wanting what he has, and of course, he must protect himself and the book. We see that he has some ninja killing skills that have carried him all these years. Honestly, without beating around the bush, The Book Of Eli is hands down my favorite film of the year thus far. January is usually a dump site for lackluster films but I must say that 2010 is breaking that cliche.
Eli was guided by a higher power to a hidden book and given the task of protecting the book and taking it to its final destination. Eli guards the book with his life, because he knows that the book is the only hope that humanity has for its future. Eli is a peaceful man who only acts in self defense, and becomes a warrior with unbelievable killing skills when he is challenged. Visually, this movie was amazing. Once again, the production design and the cinematography are absolutely stunning. If I may be so bold, I would like to say it featured the best soundtrack for a movie in years. It was that good. Sure, The Book of Eli can be viewed as a religious movie but I assure you, it didn’t feel remotely preachy or heavy handed.
A good blogger buddy of mine over at Cinematropolis quoted Denzel as being ‘God’s Samurai’ and I thought this was a fitting description of the character. Washington aside, you have some great supporting characters in Mila Kunis and Gary Oldman. Although their performances complimented Washington, I couldn’t wrap my head around the many plot holes. In one instance, Carnegie takes one look at Eli and says, “He is not like other men,” but then spends the rest of the movie trying to kill him to prove “he’s just a man.” Another example is how they got their hands on a gattling gun after ammo for a pistol is scarce. Those gripes aside, it was a very enjoyable movie.
But on the whole, The Hughes Brothers have created a solid homage to samurai films and done so in a clever fashion by putting it beneath the guise of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Eli impressed me by having no dialogue for almost the first ten minutes of the movie. Make no mistake about it, this film is heavily asian influenced. I give it high praise and it even gives us a twist ending that sucker punched me for once. The first great movie of the year that you should all be running to see in my opinion.