Friday, March 19, 2010

The Book of Eli - *

A drifter blows into town and causes all sorts of havoc in The Book of Eli. It's a pretty old story and has been given much better treatment from many better films in the past, but Eli twists it, making it an apocalyptic western with religious themes. Eli is a man of faith who has been walking around with a machete for fifteen years looking for something God told him he would find but when his iPod battery runs out, he needs to go into town to get it charged and starts some shit with the locals. Mayhem ensues.

The film opens pretty well, although perhaps my judgement was clouded by my love for directors the Hughes Brothers, who are responsible for Menace II Society and the criminally underrated Dead Presidents. Whether it was ever actually good or not doesn't really matter, because by the thirty minute mark, the bleached-out color tone has already blanked out your desire to care about what is happening. After a while you resign yourself to only noting silly details, like when Eli visits an elderly couple and realizes while sitting on their couch that they are cannibals who wish to eat him, just before their house gets shot up by Gary Oldman and his gang, who are trying to get ahold of Eli's Bible (the last one in existence, we're told) so he can use it to control people. Why he needs the Bible is never really clear, because he already rules the town. The silliest twist comes at the end, though, and it is almost worth spoiling, but I won't do it. Despite all of this, I will say that Gary Oldman is pretty excellent at times, and Denzel Washington is Denzel Washington, but they were both upstaged in what is the most memorable part of the film: a bartender asks Eli if he wants a glass of water, and some thirsty dickhead in the audience shouts, "Yeah."

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