The Hughes Brothers, who brought Victorian England alive in the visually arresting and vastly-underrated From Hell, now turn their eyes to a post-apocalyptic America with stunning effect.
The Book of Eli is a fantastically conceived and brilliantly executed action adventure. The foxy Denzel Washington scintillates as Eli, who is walking West, safeguarding a book, since the apocalypse 30 years ago.
Carnegie, a mob boss of a ramshackle town, wants Eli's book as he believes it to be the source of ultimate power. Eli has some very cool moves and a cooler sword. Carnegie is willing to do anything to get the book and Eli is equally determined not to let go of the book.
The movie is violent with some breathtakingly-choreographed action sequences. The world is not a particularly nice place with wicked biker gangs and cannibals hanging around doing despicable things.
After Legion, The Book of Eli is the second movie featuring sweet old people who turn out to be the sheer personification of evil. Wonder what subliminal message there is.
The palette features industrial blues and greys with the sun shining pitilessly down on the struggling, straggling human kind. The relentless sunshine is a chance for all the people in the movie to sport the coolest shades. Of the cast, Gary Oldman chews up the scenery as Carnegie, while Jennifer Beals is competent as Carnegie's cowed-down mistress, Claudia, and Mila Kunis looks suitably hot as Solara, Claudia's daughter.
The movie uses countless tropes from Westerns, including the man with no name, coming to a dusty town terrorised by a well-read, well-dressed psychopath, the fight in the saloon and the shootout in the middle of nowhere.
We recognise these tropes and are lulled into a kind of security that leaves us totally unprepared for the two knock out punches the film delivers in the end. Totally incendiary.
If you do not have a problem with the religious slant and the belief of the United States as the cradle of civilisation, The Book of Eli is the greatest fun.
The Book of Eli
Director: Albert and Allan Hughes
Cast: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Jennifer Beals, Mila Kunis
Storyline: In a post apocalyptic world, Eli is headed West to deliver a book to safekeeping. A warlord, Carnegie wants the book at all costs
Bottomline: A fantastically conceived and brilliantly executed action adventure