In a violent post-apocalyptic society, a drifter, Eli (Denzel Washington), 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, while 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 (Gary Oldman), the man views Eli's impressive fighting skills and offers Eli a place within his gang. Carnegie presses his blind lover Claudia (Jennifer Beals) to send her daughter, Solara (Mila Kunis), 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...Written by
Harry Jankel, London, England
When the cast are lined to the left and to the right, CG clouds over them move then don't, between shots. See more »
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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Aside from the title, there are no opening credits. See more »
A montage of deleted scenes on the DVD include a scene where Claudia reads the Braille bible to Carnegie as he lies on his deathbed. See more »
The style is strong but the content is nonsense (regardless of what your beliefs are))
The first thing that strikes you about this film is how horrid and beautiful it looks all at the same time. We are in a post-apocalyptic world of washed out colours, destroyed structures and dying people scrabbling to make sure they are not the next to die; and it is a world that is really well designed and really well filmed by Don Burgess. Everything looks convincing and it doesn't feel like they just shot it out in a desert location, it genuinely feels like a scorched earth. The only slight irritant about the look of the film is that it does feel very much like a great copy of the world of Fallout 3 as created by Bethseda – right down to the design of the "bandits" with their goggles and ragged clothing; this bugged me and those very familiar with this world via gaming may also feel the film is "borrowing" rather than creating.
I talk about the look and style of the film first because to me it is really one of the main reasons to watch this film and indeed for the first 20 minutes or so, it is all we are drifting on – this sense of the cool and the barren without much in the way of who's or why's. Unfortunately when the plot does start to come in, it does so with a terribly corny story and message that wouldn't be out of place in one of those overly-earnest low-budget films made by Christian companies. Indeed this is what this film is – an overly earnest religious film, it just happens to have cost millions and have massive Hollywood stars involved in it. Now, this is the point where you assume that I dislike the film because it is to do with God and the bible, but this wasn't it all at – it didn't help for sure, but this isn't the reason.
The main problem I have is that the film doesn't actually seem interested in making this message work and the plot just seems like a necessary evil to get the character walking in slow-mo around this cool landscape. There isn't much development beyond the basic dialogue about the power of this book and it is nothing but endless corn in the main; I may have respected it more if it had done something with the content, but it doesn't, indeed it seems almost embarrassed by it. The Hughes Brothers for sure aren't particularly interested in that and thus the performances and shots are all about the style, the atmosphere and the look of the film. Accordingly the cast do the same – which is fine because I wonder why they were all queuing up to be in this story. Washington is a great lead because he is all style and presence and he fits the landscape well. Kunis' character makes less sense as she goes on but she is stunning to look at and again fits the style aspect of the film. Oldman's villain is poor and as a result he is only OK.
What all this leaves then is a film that should be watched by fans of Fallout 3 and New Vegas, simply because it is a great film recreation of those worlds, from the colour of the sky down to the costumes it feels and looks like the games. Outside of this though, the casual viewer is left with very little of interest going on behind the style; the story is cloyingly religious and lacking any insight or intelligence – in terms of writing it feels like having two guys at your door trying to sell Jesus to you with platitudes and clichés. It all looks fantastic but unfortunately the script simply doesn't deserve the visuals.
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