USA 2010   Directed by: Albert & Allen Hughes   Written by: Gary Whitta   Produced by: Joel Silver, Denzel Washington, Broderick Johnson, Andrew Kosove, David Valdes   Music: Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross, Claudia Sarne   Cinematography: Don Burgess   Editing: Cindy Mollo   Cast: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, Jennifer Beals, Evan Jones, Joe Pingue

If you never saw the trailer to THE BOOK OF ELI, do so. It’s a great trailer: the action, the cinematography, the intensity…the promise. In those 30 seconds, a few glimpses of Denzel Washington’s solemn but deadly moves and few words were enough to get you perturbed in your chair and check your calendar for the movie’s opening date. I know I was. Along with Denzel, the rest of the cast was sound, too: Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis (from THAT 70’S SHOW), and even Michael Gambon and Tom Waits.

From the opening scene, we followed closely with Denzel to realize that the world he’s in is one that’s been demolished by some kind of global catastrophe. He’s a loner on survival mode. No, wait, he’s a loner with a mission. But what that mission is took a while to discover. Actually, it took over an hour to realize. But no, you don’t want to know yet, because the directors wanted you to anticipate the big revelation. And so, like endless hero movies go, Denzel is a man of peace and yet, can kick some serious ass. And, fortunately, he’s constantly being bombarded with a string of obstacles, mainly nomads who are only after means of survival, anything from KFC ketchup packets to gloves and scarves. But, little do these dogs know, since they can’t read, Denzel carries one of the most profound treasures of mankind, the King James Bible. However, there’s one man who does treasure the book: Carnegie (Gary Oldman).

Due to the similar age of both actors, Denzel and Oldman, we soon found out that a world war took place 30 years ago, characters who survived the war and could still read. Hence, they treasured the book. But their intentions are that of good and evil: Denzel wanted to take the book West, for what, he’s not sure…only a voice in his head had told him to; and Oldman wanted the fancy vocabulary of the book to help him to be a better public speaker, and of course, to rule the world.

Here’s where the movie started to really fall apart. Denzel has been on this trekking trip for over 30 years and he’s still walking in the land of America. I don’t know about you, but I recall in less than a year, Forest Gump had gone coast to coast, several times. There were a few entertaining scenes that took a bit of choreography to make Denzel look like he was Steven Segal and knew his way around a designer machete. How he acquired these fantastic skills, we don’t know. I guess the writer didn’t feel it was necessary to build a background story for our hero, or any of the other characters. Everyone just seemed to be in this movie.

There were no stakes, no purpose, no point to this movie, and to life. People in a post world-war environment are damaged, condemned, and bleak. And so the picture was painted this way, and all to lead us to this compelling conclusion: there is a way out, a way to salvation. And that would be the Bible.

Early in the movie, books were brought to Carnegie by these nomadic mercenaries. Literary books that educated and entertained. A snippet shot of THE DA VINCI CODE was amongst the pile. Though, Carnegie quickly dismissed them and ordered them to be burned, because all he was after was the Bible…because no other book was as important as the Bible. Oh, I get it. There was a point to this movie. During these harsh times, where terrorism is abundant, it’s a perfect moment to remind us that if you believed in God, the Christian God, then you shall be saved. I wanted to discuss more about this film. But then again, with brief but non-consequential appearances by the brilliant Michael Bambon, Tom Waits, and some pants-moving scenes by the Angelina Jolie-like Kunis, there really isn’t much more to say other than that this load of celluloid story was the works of some disturbed, and manically preaching, committee to further the Christian propaganda. May God save us all. Amen.

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