Apocalypse III

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The Book of Eli

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 2, 2015

He’s blind! And that ending is kind of exactly copped from Truffaut’s take on Fahrenheit 451. Originality isn’t everything, so that’s not necessarily a problem. But a bigger uncertainty, and a fundamental strategical misstep sort of sink this. With regard to that uncertainty one should be fair. Who really understands religion, or spirituality, or God? Well, not these guys, anyway. Struggle, or uncertainty, or “Lord I believe—help thou my unbelief” are all completely valid. But I don’t think The Book of Eli is spiritually serious, sincere, or searching at all. I think it’s real intent is contained in the second, strategical and misstepping thing to which I referred above.

This movie sure is gleeful in the way it pursues and perpetrates mayhem! Look at that graphic novel silhouette/ tableaux. Look at him, annihilating everybody! Look at the filmmakers make those two actors from the Harry Potter series be cannibals and curse a lot! Our hero may recite from the Bible (and quite beautifully, at that) and treat women respectfully, but in the end, for all of the handsome if over-emphatic design, The Book of Eli is mostly just so much fast and furious.

Furthermore, having Malcolm McDowell play civilization’s saviour seems something of a miscalculation, don’t you think? Are these people oblivious to the intertextual implications—think of McDowell’s most celebrated credits—or are they just really cynical? This is like when they cast Gene Lockhart to play the benevolent angel in Carousel. Serious, even fatal implausibility!