Washington takes on post-apocalyptic earth in “Eli”

For years the film industry has exploited the concept of the apocalypse and how humanity would survive after being brought to the edge of extinction. Such a notion has given birth to countless films that detail the post-apocalyptic world, including the “Terminator” series, “Escape from New York,” and the classic “Mad Max” trilogy.

In hindsight these movies are very entertaining in regard to the action, but they have always seemed to be lacking purpose and human emotion. However, the recent film, “The Book of Eli” has managed to integrate all of those themes into a well-established genre in film.

It seems that people have responded very well since “The Book of Eli” has grossed over $66 million after only a two week run in theaters, making it the highest grossing movie of 2010. While this may change as more films are released, the film itself will be talked about for years to come.

The collaborative efforts of writer Gary Whitta and directors Albert and Allen Hughes have created one of the most original stories and characters to come out of Hollywood in years. Denzel Washington, known for such roles in “Training Day” and “Remember the Titans,” has shown once again how versatile an actor he is with his portrayal of a devout and resolute warrior. Mila Kunis, best known for her role on “That 70’s Show,” proves that she can do more than comedy. While the setting is fictional in nature, the emotion and sincerity put into their characters is real.

We are first introduced to the title character walking down a long, desolate road that has been torn up by great turmoil, most likely in the form of nuclear war. At first glance, Eli (Washington) looks like a simple traveler making his way through the harsh wasteland that the world has become. As the film progresses we learn that he is actually a formidable fighter that guards one of mankind’s greatest treasures—one of the last surviving copies of the Holy Bible. In a world that has forgotten the teachings of old, the book serves as a powerful device that could redeem mankind’s humanity or keep it enslaved by false prophets. The importance and danger of Eli’s quest is soon revealed as he makes contact with the last traces of civilization.

After stopping for supplies in a decrepit town, the antagonist of the story emerges in Carnegie, played by Gary Oldman, who is the self-appointed mayor of the people. Carnegie seeks the book for himself as a way of bringing order to the people, whereas Eli seeks to preserve its message of hope and faith. Upon leaving the town Eli is joined by Solara (Kunis), a daughter born to one of Carnegie’s concubines. Having no knowledge of the book or its contents, Eli finds in her a protégé true of heart that can guard the Bible if he cannot. The odds against this unlikely pair rise quickly as they struggle to survive the harsh environment whilst avoiding Carnegie and the army that has been dispatched to take the book.

In comparison to the other films of this genre, “The Book of Eli” stands out as more than a simple action film. While there is violence and explosions, there is a much deeper meaning to it than the advertisements convey. From start to finish, audiences everywhere will be touched by the film’s ever present themes of devotion, faith, and the power of the human spirit

Christopher Spall can be reached at christopher.spall@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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