You know what's really
hip these days? Not hula Hoops or Twitter. Not self-publishing
your Avatar fan fiction, although my nephew Jimmy seems
to be doing a lot of that. It's making post-apocalyptic pseudo
epics featuring cannibals. All the cool people are doing it.
The neighbor kids are, and they asked me if I'd play a gaunt,
violent flesheater. They didn't ask it to my face, because I
have carefully cultivated the reputations of a gaunt, violent
flesheater. I watched The Road a few weeks ago. It featured
a father and son picking their way across a barren landscape.
It's a humanistic film, not really questioning whether there
is a God. Rather, it makes the point that you take care of yourself.
There is no salvation, no miracles, and only a sliver of hope.
The Book of Eli
is the latest after-the-end-the-cannibals-will-get-you flick.
It's a quasi-mystic raging volcano of horseshit with a silly
story, an even sillier surprise ending and a message as offensive
and hypocritical as a priest standing up with his mouth smeared
in feces to sermonize about the evils of shit-eating. Denzel
Washington is Eli, a man who has been determinedly walking across
the desolate ruins of the USA for thirty years since "The War"
obliterated most everything and everyone. Take note of the prophet-ish
nature of his name. He's headed west. Let's see, 30 years is
about 11,000 days. The United States is, give or take, about
3,000 miles wide. Even assuming he started in the east, Washington
is the world's slowest walker. At this rate, it takes him ten
minutes to cross a residential street.
Washington has a
mission, though. It's meant to be unclear to us what that is,
and the vagueness should lend mystique. On his stroll, he slashes
up a few dozen bad guys with a machete. He comes across an outpost
town, which looks like the Old West in some iconic way--except
with way more product placement for J. Crew and Busch Beer--run
by the despotic, greasy Gary Oldman. It's one of the few known
places with fresh water. Oldman lives well, the townsfolk scrape
by, including Tom Waits in a what-the-fuck cameo as the proprietor
of a post-apocalyptic Radio Shack. I'm still not clear on why
this desolate town has to look like the old west other than
some dumbass thought it looked cool.
Oldman seeks a book.
He doesn't say which one and the audience is supposed to wonder
for a while. I'll give you a clue: think of the overly-serious
title of the movie. Hell, here's another clue: it's not just
a book, it's a Good Book. Oldman wants it because he thinks
he can use it to control the ignorant and bored masses. Turns
out, Washington has the only copy left in existence. Yeah, that's
a preposterous idea, but this movie is a parable, see. It's
symbolic, although not nearly as elegant or simple as the ones
in the book Oldman seeks. Also, this parable is way, way bloodier
than anything in the New Testament.
When Washington refuses
to hand over the book, there's another fight, and Washington
shoots and maims another dozen people. Washington is one bad
motherfucker in the name of God. Never misses a shot, never
gets hit. He slices, dices, slashes up genitals and shoots through
the head, as bloody as a Mel Gibson Jesus movie starring Jason
After the high-noon
shootout, Washington hits the road, with Mila Kunis as a local
who tags along in a role that's as useless as she is sort of
cute. Washington and Kunis encounter a cute elderly cannibal
couple with a "no trespassing" sign out front. What the fuck?
That's like a hunter trying to scare deer away. Or a teen boy
wearing a sandwich board that reads "I have a tiny dick that
I don't know how to use." The sign is pretty representative
of The Book of Eli's gap between logic and story.
Oldman and his henchmen
chase down Washington in a series of trucks that are, apparently,
still running fabulously on thirty-year-old tires and gas. Oh,
and Washington has a first generation iPod he listens to every
night, because, you know, those batteries never lose their capacity
for a recharge. Kunis, who was born after "The War" can drive
a truck flawlessly, even though she's never even touched one
before. I'm pointing out a small fraction of the inconsistencies
that are glossed over or ignored in the Book of Eli because
the dumbass Hughes Brothers who directed think they have something
big and important to say. They don't, unless their big message
is "We're fucking hypocrite assholes who think too highly of
Oldman succeeds in
shooting Washington. The shot doesn't kill him, though, because
he has secret magic powers given to him through faith, something
fleetingly referred to as "the fire inside" or some such horseshit.
Mystic hocus pocus, the same kind that benefits serial killers
in slasher movies when they keep coming back from the dead after
the heroes start to relax.
The theme of the
Book of Eli is that exploiting the bible is bad. Saving
it is good. Oldman wants to exploit the bible, and by extension
religion, for his own purposes. He doesn't care about the message
but what he can get through it. Washington wants to protect
it and use it to light the world with knowledge. This is an
age-old conflict told hundreds of times in history. But to make
this point the Hollywood grassfuckers have a hero that slaughters
scores of people. He beats the shit out of them, maims and slashes
and never acts repentant. Where the fuck is that in the Bible?
Explain again, please, the message of love. This shit might
fly in the Old Testament, but this movie ain't a Jewish parable.
There'd be more begetting if it were. The Book ofEli
is New Testament shit. In order to tell us it is bad to exploit
and subvert the message of the bible for your own gain, Book
of Eli exploits and subverts it. For the sake expediency
in making its one grand point (and hoping to make hundreds of
millions of dollars). Seriously, I don't see Jesus taking the
apostles to this one at the drive-in. He didn't preach tolerance
just because nobody handed him a Kalashnikov. The Sermon on
the Mount was not "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out."
The end of the movie
reveals that Washington was blind all along. His bible was Braille,
so Oldman can't use it. So, yeah, throughout the movie, he walks
by faith, shoots by faith and slashes by faith. God apparently
gave him some serious Jedi powers. He let there be a war that
destroyed everyone, but then gave this one blind dude with bloodlust
magical powers. Oh, some might call this a spoiler. But really,
how can you spoil a piece of meat that been sitting in the sun
as long as this has?
The Book of Eli
is dismal. It's bleak, silly, over-the-top with self-importance,
overly driven by a flawed message and a wonderful example of
why Hollywood should shut the fuck up any time they get an inkling
to preach. I paid ten bucks to be entertained, not to be given
a bastardized version of what I can get fro free Sunday mornings.
At least churches give you free bread. One Finger.
to tell Filthy Something?