Here's a movie that doesn't hide behind a wall and comes out with a message that is universal and incredibly strong. Now, what went wrong? The Book Of Eli (2.5/5) is an interesting and gritty effort from The Hughes Brothers but it doesn't shine with the greatness it seeks out to achieve and has a confused finale that demands a second viewing. Denzel Washington plays Eli, a bible holding wanderer that -in a post apocalyptic, bible free world- wants to go out west to preach the Bible to a population that has completely forgotten about it. I guess that automatically turns off all atheist moviegoers. For the rest of us, The Book Of Eli -out this Tuesday on DVD- is an interesting and ambitious journey into a darkened world where mercy from human beings does not exist.
Albert and Allan Hughes rarely make movies these days- so it a breath of fresh air to see them back at the scheme of things. Then you start to realize that these brothers have never topped their 1993 debut Menace 2 Society- a raw look at South Central's street gangs. The Book Of Eli is their 4th directorial effort in fiction and they almost pull it off with a curious, bleak look at apocalyptic decay but their ambitions are too high and the script too forced to ever achieve purpose. They shoot the picture with grittiness and low lighting- focusing on a sun that never shines and dessert roads that never end but they don't put a personal stamp on a movie that feels as impersonal as their last effort way back in 2001 From Hell.
The twist @ first takes the viewer back and leaves one to reflect on everything that just came before . For some it will make total sense and for others -me included- it really does not add up as a whole. It is however, gratifying to watch a movie with this many ideas and this much chutzpah in a Hollywood system that churns out less and less of them in the dog days of spring and summer. The Hughes Brothers are not going out there to entertain or to give you a good time- they want to provoke and cause debate & it seems like they have achieved that with their latest feature. I'm looking forward to their next messy vision.