Post-apocalyptic worlds are a staple of science fiction (SF) and serve to draw attention to what we might lose if humanity isn’t careful. Denzil Washington’s Eli describes the ‘old world’ as a place where people threw away what they now kill for. And when Gary Oldham’s – ironically named – Carnegie washes his female partner’s hair in shampoo, the bliss on her face emphasises the horror of a world without simple basics.
Thus The Book of Eli subtlety presents a future hell. Unsurprisingly, as it’s co-produced (with Washington) by Joel Silver, there’s also plenty of action. But that’s directed by the Hughes brothers who are amongst the most interesting of helmsmen in Hollywood today. For example, the first action sequence is shot in one take with the fighting shown in silhouette: it looks great.
There are plenty of ‘implausibles’ in the plot but that matters little when the vision of the future is so convincing; much of it in monochrome with the odd splash of colour. I think I preferred it to the very similar, and more earnest, The Road. More off-putting was the religiosity of the film; the ending did make me feel a little squeamish. However, the film did convincingly portray how necessary religion would be in such a devastated world (it also suggested that religion caused the catastrophe). So it is forgiven; well worth seeing as Washington usually is.