Friday Night Movies – The Book of Eli

Denzel kicks ass and takes names

I did not expect to like this movie.  I don’t know why I put it on my Netflix queue.  I’m not ruling out some sort of fugue state.  The last post-apocalyptic fiction I watched was The Road, and I think we can all agree that that didn’t turn out well at all.  At all.

But damn if I didn’t really like The Book of Eli.  Denzel’s charisma plus action plus a nice dollop of religious symbolism to ponder over – I was hooked from beginning to end.   There is lots of ash, similar to The Road, but there’s also some actual story to be had – with bad guys and knife fights and pretty girls and shoot outs.  No, I did not turn into a 14-year-old boy, Denzel’s trippy intensity just made the whole film click.

The basic story is simple – man with important book carries it across the country after apocalypse.  Whoop-dee-doo.  But, as they say, it’s all in the journey – and this is one hell of a journey.

It’s easy for me to be turned off by overt Christian themes, but they play out here more like they do in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade than in one of the Left Behind movies.  The mysticism and symbolism are left intact while the evangelism which I find distasteful is left in the dust.  It’s a sort of secular christianity that I find myself really loving – focusing on the history and mystery and recognizing that everything is capable of harboring both good and evil.

The Book of Eli turned out to be soooooooo much better than I expected – I actually went into watching it with a “let’s just get it over with and send it back” attitude.  I came out of it with renewed respect for Denzel Washington as an actor and producer and sort of wishing that I could brandish a big sword that I produced out of the leg of my pants.  I don’t know what I would do with it, but it would be cool.

You can read my full review (without all the nonsensical rambling) here.  After that, you should queue up The Book of Eli.  If I liked it, with my bad attitude, I can’t quite imagine who wouldn’t.

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