Friday, July 16, 2010

The Book of Eli (2009)

I might not have held out much hope for this movie if I'd read the screenplay in advance, but this rather bizarre genre mish-mash The Road meets Mad Max 2 meets Pale Rider comes a spoiler, Zatoichi has benefited from a superior implementation. The cast is particularly stellar: Denzel Washington plays Eli, a 'walker' carrying the last copy of the King James Bible some thirty years after a war/solar flare event has re-primitivised things considerably (though there still seems to be some stockpiles of fossil fuels for those who prefer n0t to walk.)

Eli has been heading West for three decades, a fact that seems a little less absurd once the movie has delivered its big reveal. Gary Oldman plays the township headman desperately seeking a copy of the good book so that he can exploit its potential for manipulating the needy. This apparent recognition of the bad news aspect of the biblical message makes up in part for the fanciful Christian fervour otherwise emanating from this story.

Michael Gambon and Frances de la Tour put in nice little cameos as an ageing couple holding out in what seems to be the last farm-house on the charred remains of the great plains. Tom Waits also shows up as a shopkeeper for whom KFC freshening wipes are a valuable commodity and Malcolm McDowell (uncredited) as the man piecing civilisation back together book by book, who has an unassuming little space on his shelf for the book of Eli.

Grade: B(+)

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