Denzel Washington vs. Gary Oldman sounded like a quality action flick. Plus, throw in the style of the Hughes brothers (where have these guys been since doing “From Hell”?) and it’s all the more reason to see Book of Eli. Only despite Washington bringing a bad-ass gravitas, Oldman chewing scenery, and the Hughes giving the film the mandatory dreary look of an apocalyptic world, Garry Whitta’s script is just a lot of nonsense.
Washington plays a Bible-toting loner named Eli, entrusted with the book by God after the world has been blown to pieces. Cannibals and various other vultures (think “The Road”) stand in his way. He arrives in a western town where its leader, Carnegie (Oldman), is very interested in using the Bible as a form of control over people far and wide and dispatches his sexy step-daughter (an annoying Mila Kunis), as well as other henchmen to chase Eli down.
The point is the word of God is all-powerful but the plot is flimsy and ridiculous (how is the book a form of control if no one besides Carnegie can read or even knows the book’s significance?), and continues downhill. The Hughes brothers give us some impressive fights (with some very nice knife-wielding by Washington) as well as gore, Gatling guns, and explosions but the action is saddled with heavy-handed religious overtones that take away a lot of the fun. The constant use of slow-motion and filming the cast from the back and in close-up gets tedious as well.