Armed men hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day's work for dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the mastermind behind the crime.
A DEA agent and a naval intelligence officer find themselves on the run after a botched attempt to infiltrate a drug cartel. While fleeing, they learn the secret of their shaky alliance: Neither knew that the other was an undercover agent.
In a violent post-apocalyptic society, a drifter, Eli, has been wandering westward across North America for the last thirty years. He finds solace in a unique book which he carries on his person and guards closely, whilst surviving by hunting small animals and seeking goods in destroyed houses and vehicles to trade in villages for water and supplies. When he reaches a village ruled by the powerful mobster, Carnegie, the man views Eli's impressive fighting skills and offers Eli a place within his gang. Carnegie presses his blind lover Claudia to send her daughter, Solara, to at least convince Eli to spend the night by sleeping with him. However, Eli proves to be the better man when he gently declines her advances. The girl sees Eli's book, and when Carnegie finds out he beats her mother until she reveals what she saw. Carnegie sends his gang into the wasteland to take the book from Eli, but the man proves to be a formidable foe as he makes it more than clear that if they want the book,... Written by
Harry Jankel, London, England
Young Woman Hijacker:
Please, don't hurt me. Here, take anything you want. You want some food? Take it.
I'm not gonna hurt you.
Young Woman Hijacker:
Yeah? That's what the last guy said. Could... could you help me? The wheel came off. I can't fix it. Maybe if I... if I could... but I can't.
You know the only good thing about no soap... is that you can smell hijackers a mile off!
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In a very short space of time two post-apocalyptic films have been release, the brilliant The Road which is aiming for Oscar glory, and the action packed The Book of Eli which is appealing for the mass audience.
30 years after a massive war which blow a hole in the sky, possibly a nuclear war, Eli (Denzel Washington) is a lone traveller heading to the West Coast of America. He is a skilled martial artist, armed with guns, a long knife and a bow and is carrying the last King James Bible. On the way he has to avoid and kill hijackers and cannibals. On his travel Eli has to stop off in a ramshackle of a town to buy water and recharge his gear. The town itself run on a barter economy. The leader of the town, Carnegie (Gary Oldman), was impressed by Eli's skill and even more impressed when he found out he can read. Carnegie offer's the traveller a place in his gang. But when Carnegie finds out Eli has the Bible he ends up searching for Eli. The Bible would give Carnegie the ideological based to strengthen his position and expand his power base. Eli goes on the run, hoping to go West and is joined by a young girl Solara (Mila Kunis). He teaches Solara about the Bible and religion and why it is important he goes west.
The best thing about the film is the action. It was slick, stylist, well-edited and at times a fine long fixed shots. There are brilliant moments with the way the camera goes through buildings, and follows the action. The Hughes Brothers have good style as action directors, better then say Michael Bay or McG who throw everything at the camera.
The story is not that original, there are elements of likes like Mad Max 2 and 3, The Road and the Man With No Name trilogy. But there are interesting ideas, the use of religion as political ideology, the use of religion as political control and showing both the good and bad sides of faith. Most films only show one side of the other: but this does both and I can praise it for that. I think given a bit of fine tuning then this could have been a really good script.
As mentioned, the Hughes brothers have style as action directors, but they also filmed in a slightly washed out look, giving the film a more given a gritty, earthy feel. It doesn't camp it up like the third Max Mad film did. They pacing was good for the most part and allow you to get to the character as well as seeing the action. However some moments did drag the film and could have been sped up. Others just didn't fit, like the slightly comical scene with an elderly couple played by Frances de la Tour and Michael Gambon. 10 to 15 minutes could have been cut.
Denzel Washington is possibly one of the coolest actors in the world. He was well cast as the protagonist, and since the character is a bit older then usual action hero Washington was the right age for the film. Gary Oldman does his use villainous role he is normally good at, look at his roles in True Romance, Leon, the Fifth Element and Air Force One. He gives his character a young Jack Nicholoson quality, though my brother said he reminded him of Bill the Butcher from Gangs of New York. He was good as he normally is. However whilst Mila Kunis is easy on the eye, her performance was weak and wooden. She wasn't believable as a young girl looking for a way out and able to grow as a character. At least she has Family Guy to fall back on. Other smaller roles were also not as convincing as the lead roles.
This was a decent film, but there was room for improvement.
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