Monday 18 January 2010

Review: The Book of Eli

Year: 2010
Director: The Hughes Brothers
Screenplay: Gary Whitta
Starring: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis

You could say that The Book of Eli is the "louder" cousin to The Road. But whereas The road was a meditation on the very morals that make us human, The Book of Eli is about Denzel Washington kick ass and taking names. It also has a plot moment that shouldn't work if you think about it for more than one second, however the slick direction from The Hughes Brothers manage to distract me enough that I didn't notice how dumb said plot point was until I had left the cinema.

The film has other issues, there's far too much slow motion, it's slightly over long and none of the performances are any of the actors best. With all that said, I found something to enjoy within the movie. One of the main things being that after 8 years, the Hughes bros' can still infuse a film with a vigorous energy. It's not as immediate and hard hitting as their still superb debut (Menace 2 Society) but it shows that they still have the talent for directing set pieces. In fact despite the fact that the films best action sequence owes a lot to Bad Boys 2, it just so happens they nicked the best part of that movie and almost made it their own.

And it's not just moments of action. The brothers still have a knack for making a story engaging. Despite the aforementioned mis-steps, The Book of Eli still makes for a mostly engrossing watch. It helps that the siblings are directing the likes of Washington and Oldman (despite both actors being not at their best, they still bring a certain something to the parts), but the film also has some great visuals. and the underlying themes are interesting ones if not subtle.

Subtlety is not the films strong point. Not that it matters because like I mentioned before, this is a film about Denzel kicking ass. However it is that lack of subtlety that makes John Hillcoat's The Road the better view for me. There are images within Eli that almost mimic The Road but they lack the subtext that is loaded within the latter film. To put it simply; the reason it's a Coke can is important, the reason why it's a Motorola loudspeaker is money.