Tuesday, December 13, 2016

ReWatch: The Book of Eli

2010, The Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society) -- Bluray

I love me some PoAp (post apocalypse) fiction. Just finished reading Wastelands 2 and that got me into the mood to poke around in some ruins. The Book of Eli is the perfect American wasteland movie, despite it heavily leaning toward the proselytizing of old time Christianity. Like most, it never really explains what happened, just presents us with an American west full of craters and covered in dust. It absorbs the fantastical element, in that no radiation hinders our hero, but sets him on a hero's journey against great odds of the human kind.

This is an incredibly stylish movie, The Hughes Brother again trying something different for this movie. I am surprised we don't see more of these guys, only having a handful of films under their belt since the iconic Menace II Society. With its washed out colours, distinctive music by Atticus Ross and nods to Kung Fu, this slides a little into concept movie, but no, really does stay firmly as an action flick.

Denzel is Eli, a wanderer of the wastelands. He heads west with his cherished Bible and his iPod of Motown classics; I am sure he has more than just Al Green. He wants to avoid conflict, but sometimes he just cannot bypass evil, slicing and dicing haggard villains with moves of his light and incredibly sharp blade. Finally, the need of a battery charge leads him to a town led by Gary Oldman, a warlord who just happens to be looking for a Bible. It is the last book Oldman needs to control the people, the book with just the right words to make him legit. Of course, the wanderer will not give up his good book.

Much of the beats and notes of this movie are from a western. He might not be a cigar chomping white guy and the music is not done by an Italian, but you can almost hear the spurs jingling. Eli comes into town, fights the Bad Guy, defeats his goons on the town's single street and saves the girl from the saloon. I will have to go check if it was noon. And further into the west they go.

Despite my apathy towards Christianity, I appreciated what the movie was trying to say. Tradition, belief and faith. I also like that Eli is bringing this book to publishers who see the importance of it next to all the other great books of history, not as the centre of a new religion. Reverence can be a beautiful thing.

Of course, the reveal is entirely magical. Eli is blind. Has always been. His Bible is in brail. Even when he loses it to Oldman, its a waste of Oldman's efforts. Not only has Oldman given up everything for it, he also gets to die knowing how much he has lost, for nothing. But Eli, having read that book on his long walks back and forth across the wasteland, has memorize all the words. And they get transcribed by Malcom Mcdowell before Eli passes from his wounds.

Solara, Mila Kunis, the girl from the saloon that Eli has saved, both physically and spiritually, dons Eli's armour (his aviator glasses) and begins her own hero's journey back east, to save her mom and free her people. Its a shame that movie never got made.