22 January 2010

At the movies: The Book of Eli.

The shame-spiral of Dead Presidents-American Pimp-From Hell weren't enough to stop The Hughes Brothers, who have returned to give the moviegoing public a desaturated, blood-splattered almost-Western about a dismemberin' loner (Denzel Washington) who protects the last Bible in the world. Gary Oldman wants it, and has several hundred henchmen to throw at Denzel to try and get that Bible, because it holds the key to rebuilding society after a horrifying cataclysm.

But here's the deal- the simple truth is that if you're looking for any sort of provocative statement about theology, society, or morality, you will find it sorely lacking. The film's actions are grounded deeply in Old Testament rhetoric about laying down vengeance and such, but at its center is the void.

I'm not surprised Denzel Washington took the part- he gets to be a stone cold badass fighting for decency and literacy in a postapocalyptic wasteland. He also gets to teach sexy women how to use high-power weaponry, then deploy some slice-and-dice-and-julienne skills to make the world safe for some righteous living. But The Book of Eli is both shameful and stupid (its one-two punch of an ending is a truly special kind of ridiculous), and gorehounds and evangelicals will both be horribly disappointed.

If the film had any sort of specificity to its theology, or even a willingness to bring some divine intervention into the picture, that would be one thing. But no.


Just more blood spilled in the name of religion by people who have no grasp of the material they're using to define their lives, and worse, the lives of others.

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