Movie Review: Book of Eli

Just got back from a screening of “The Book of Eli”, a post-apocalyptic drama starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, and Jennifer Beals.  The story is set in a world 30 years after a war “tore a hole in the sky, let the sun came down and burned the earth.”  The devastated, near black and white landscape hosts a smattering of thugs, refugees, cannibals, bandits, and wanderers.  Things from the “time before” are prized, from bullets and books to handi-wipes.  Water is very scarce and those who control clean water control people.

Eli is one of those wanderers with an almost supernatural ability to defend himself.  Here the movie is very explicit in the violence: cutting off hands, shooting people in heads, cutting off heads, etc.  It is not for kids (though sadly I saw several families with small children in the audience).  It isn’t as over-the-top gore as say a Tarantino flick, but they show you the battle and then let it rest.

The setup feels very much like a “western”.  The lone wanderer comes into a town, becomes a threat to the boss, and is targeted by a long string of thugs and soldiers.  The source of the conflict is a book that Eli is carrying, sent on a divine mission by a voice in his head.  The boss wants the book to reinforce his hold over his people and expand to more towns.

One Easter Egg in the film that I enjoyed was a movie poster for “A Boy and His Dog” (1975, Don Johnson as the lead) set in a very, very similar post-apocalyptic future.

Overall, the movie was satisfying and it certainly gave me a lot of ideas for running a post-apocalyptic game.  I’m thinking of writing a “Gaming the Movies” column based on this film.

Grade: B+

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