“I need that book, I want that book. I want you to stay but if you make me have to choose, I’ll kill you and take that book!”
I like Denzel Washington as an actor. But looking at his IMDB, I realise that I haven’t seen all that many Denzel Washington movies. It also makes me realise that while he makes a lot of popcorn, pay cheque movies, I’ve seen even less of them. Instead, I tend to have seen the wankier, more highbrow movies. But he’s a legit blockbuster movie star, making legit blockbusters. Even the Denzel blockbusters I have seen, like Training Day and Crimson Tide, are all about tension and dialogue, not explosions and fist fights. So I decided it was time to get some downright, low brow Denzel action into me with, The Book of Eli.
Wandering a post apocalyptic wasteland, Eli (Washington) is attacked by some bandits. In quick order, he dispatches them all and continues on his badass way. Coming to what passes for a town in this world, he has another run in to once again prove he’s not someone to be messed with. He catches the attention of the town’s leader, Gary Oldman as Carnegie. Carnegie is on the hunt for a very special book in a world where books are rare. And it just so happens that Eli is in possession of a book that he seems very protective of.
When Eli declines Carnegie’s requests for the book, he escapes the town under a hail of bullets, only to find he’s being followed by Solara (Mila Kunis). The daughter of Carnegie’s mistress, Solara knows there must be more to their world than her tyrannical step father, and she decides Eli is the key to that salvation. So the two of them flee together, dodging Carnegie’s men and attempting to finish Eli’s divine mission to head west.
I’ve seen Denzel Washington when King Kong ‘aint had shit on him in Training Day. I’ve seen Denzel Washington believably stare down the monumentally intimidating Gene Hackman in Crimson Tide. But I have never seen the kind of ass kicking, name taking Denzel Washington that you get in every single second of The Book of Eli.
Give him a machete or a gun, and the Denzel Washington of The Book of Eli could defeat an entire army. It’s ludicrous and over blown and completely bat shit insane, and its perfect in the way it uses that excess. The movie gets a lot of mileage out Eli’s age. Sometimes for comedic effect, sometimes dramatic, sometimes thematic. And it always works. Denzel was in his mid 50s when he made this and apparently did all of his own stunts. Knowing that only makes the character of Eli that more awesome and impressive.
And if all of that isn’t enough to lift your skirt, remember, Gary Oldman plays the baddie. Few people can rival Oldman for the number of insane and always different bad guys he’s given us over the years. Carnegie might not be the weirdest, but he’s still up there as one of the scariest and most ruthless.
After watching The Book of Eli, it turns out that I really like ass kicking, action hero, blockbuster Denzel Washington. And in more recent years, he kind of paved the way for the onslaught of Liam Neeson, old man action movies. I’m really not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. But I am sure that I’m stoked about all the Denzel asskickers I have to catch up on.