All in all, ‘The Book of Eli’ is one giant metaphor. To what extent it is a metaphor is completely up to the viewer. To a small extent, The Book of Eli is a modern retelling of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion/resurrection, or if one looks into it deeper it is the story of the foretold “second coming of Christ.”
Whether or not this is really what the film is supposed to be is up to anyone to decide, just as any religion is. You can take it to any extent you want, you can grasp it at it’s fullest or ignore it completely. Or if you want to have some fun you can just stick in the middle of things and enjoy the ride. If you haven’t seen this movie I’ve probably given you a load of wrong ideas, but don’t think I’ve spoiled it. When I notice a movie has this strong of a meaning I’m not going to just rabble about whether or not it’s good. You have to take these things as they are because they only come once.
Now, in a sense this is a religious movie, but then again it isn’t at all, but when it isn’t the plotholes soar to great heights. However, we can let those slide, or at least I can, because at that point it becomes a totally awesome post-apocalyptic western in the same sense of ‘Mad Max,’ which happens to be a favorite of mine. Luckily it doesn’t ever come too close to ripping off that trilogy in the case of plot or story, although they both are in the same time-frame. While ‘Mad Max’ had it’s meaningful symbolism of human corruption over oil, this movie aims towards corruption over religion.
In ‘The Book of Eli’ we see some very stylish directing from the Hughes Brothers (‘From Hell’) and some great acting from Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman, while everyone else falls to the stereotypes of immoral post-apocalyptic citizens. Washington plays Eli, a drifter with a few tricks up his sleeve, who is searching for his purpose in life, while Oldman plays Carnegie, the somewhat psychotic leader of these futuristic desert drones who is after a book that Eli possesses. I won’t tell you what the book is but hopefully by now you can guess correctly. Don’t worry, it’s not much of a spoiler, it’s actually better if you know.
Mila Kunis doesn’t do much for me, but I can’t help but like her because she tries at least. In a Western sense she’s the typical “prostitute” character that befriends the drifter because she sees him as her “savior” (I guess that’s a pun intended…). She mostly causes problems for Eli, but she does give him great assistance on his journey and plays an important role in the story. Her and her mother are basically slaves to Carnegie, who pretty much represents the most corrupt person, or all-evil-in-one if you want to be more precise.
His intentions are to use Eli’s book to gain ultimate control, while Eli’s goal is to find the person it belongs to. The events that unfold are up to you to find out, unless you’ve already seen it of course. If you haven’t, hopefully I haven’t made the movie too predictable. That’s mainly why I stated my theories before my review/thesis, so you wouldn’t think too hard about it.
Aside from all of the awesome action sequences (trust me, Denzel kicks some serious ass), the somewhat depressing yet still gorgeous landscapes, and all of the awesomeness of Denzel and Gary Oldman in one movie, what gets me the most about this movie is it’s soundtrack. I personally felt that the music was prepared just for me to watch it, but maybe that’s just me, or maybe it’s just that good. The epic sound really lifts the mood of the film, although its plot is somewhat deserted as its setting.
The only plot in the film seemed to actually revolve around Carnegie as the protagonist whose goal is to find a certain book while Eli is the antagonist who has the only copy and refuses to share it. Not much effort is put into making this apparent as more attention is given to Eli, although I can’t complain because he sure is entertaining.
And then aside from this we once again return to the overall meaning of the movie. There are three ways you can look at it.
In one corner you can view it as pure entertainment that coincidentally happens to have a pretty controversial story. I mean, imagine this movie without Denzel and tell me how good it’d be.
In another corner it can be that pro-religious movie, in which humans are represented as hopeless and immoral without the guidance of this particular book. If that is the case, then the movie is perfect. However I do not like to look at it this way because I do not like to think of humans as that dependent of any book. We shouldn’t need that much help to survive peacefully in the world. Some people like this idea though, and I won’t judge you.
But this is why I view the movie as a huge metaphor for how people can comprehend and use religion incorrectly, how it can destroy the world, and how it can unite everyone in the end. To what extent this enters “cheesy”-territory is completely dependent on how big your “cheesy”-meter is and how much “cheesy” you can tolerate. And then there are various plotholes that you may or may not catch, but by this time you’ve thought about it too much like I have when it could just be a typical Hollywood movie with Denzel Washington in the lead role designed to make me think there’s some bigger meaning to it, in which case I would’ve wasted my time since that was my first assumption. But I have faith that I didn’t.