The Oscar buzz is about last year's performances and the summer blockbusters are still five months away. So, when movies come out this time of the year there is a distinct possibility that the movie is going to have a weak story line and sub par acting. This is not the case with "The Book of Eli." For a January movie — it exceeded my expectations.
Both Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman are well respected actors. Gary's role in this film was that of the old bad guy running a small western front town 30 years after a nuclear war (I am assuming it was nuclear war, they only vaguely described what happened). He sends his traveling bandits out of town to find the last Bible on earth. He does this because with the last Bible on earth he can reestablish civilization under his reign. It does seem far-fetched but then again it is a January movie so I will cut it some slack. Gary did a great job, reminded me a little of his bad guy character in "The Professional," but he wasn't over the top with his acting, only when he needed to be.
On to Denzel, who did another great job. He reminded me of Clint Eastwood in his western movies where he didn't say much because he didn't have to. Denzel's actions spoke for him. That leads us into the action sequences. The Hughes Brothers delivered the action with a wallop and without a lot of blood and guts. The first fight scene looked like five silhouettes fighting a shadow of a man. There's also a shoot out scene where they used some pretty innovative camera shots to put the viewer into the action. The action was quick and to the point and just as important, it was memorable.
We covered the actors and the action, so what about the story? The story could have taken place in the Old West just as it could have taken place in an apocalyptic future. It was simple and didn't have many confusing elements to it. The premise was to get that Bible. Denzel's job was to head west to deliver the last copy of the Bible to someone. He does everything in his power to protect the book. Since the Bible is the main focus of the hunt there are some religious overtones but nothing too heavy. There is also a good use of humor, something totally unexpected considering the drabness of the film.
The camera helped in telling much of the story. Through much of the movie the camera and landscape was all that was needed to carry key elements in the story. In one scene Mila Kunis' character was attacked and instead of talking about it afterward, the camera took time to focus on her reaction to the situation. There are also several shots of Denzel walking in the desolation showing the audience the ruined landscape. Dialogue couldn't have added much more.
Should you see this movie? Yes. All I am saying is keep your eyes open.