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"THE BOOK OF ELI"
(2010) (Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Extreme Extreme Heavy Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Heavy Moderate Extreme None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy None Heavy Heavy Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Action/Drama: In a post-apocalyptic world, a lone traveler continues on his quest west, but most contend with an educated villain and his array of thugs who want the potentially influential book in his possession.
PLOT:
It's been decades since the end of the world as we know it, and Eli (DENZEL WASHINGTON) is a solemn and lone traveler who's spent the past thirty years heading across the remains of America. He's a rarity in being an older, middle-aged man in a time when few of them exist anymore, but he's quite capable of defending himself from the thieves and even cannibals that roam the mostly barren and desolate lands. His source of inspiration is an old book that he carries with him and for which he's on a quest to take it west, although he's uncertain of his exact destination or final reason for his higher-calling journey.

Things become more perilous when he enters a small town, hoping that a local shopkeeper (TOM WAITS) can recharge his old digital music player. While waiting for that and needing water, he enters the tavern across the street where a thug, Martz (EVAN JONES), discovers the hard way that it's best not to mess with him. After dealing with him and an assortment of others, Eli ends up captured by Redridge (RAY STEVENSON) who works for the town's dictator, Carnegie (GARY OLDMAN).

An educated man who remembers the old days before the war and resultant "flash" that opened in the sky and incinerated or blinded most everyone, Carnegie's sole obsession is in finding a certain book that he believes will give him the power to influence and thus rule those in other towns as well. Having seen Eli's prowess and thinking that will come in handy, he hopes to convince him to stay by having Solara (MILA KUNIS) -- the pretty daughter of his blind mistress, Claudia (JENNIFER BEALS) -- spend the night with him.

Eli doesn't fall for that, but does get her to pray with him before eating, and unintentionally allows her to see his valued book, although she can't read, much like everyone else. Her forced description of that, however, alerts Carnegie that Eli possesses the book he so covets, the Bible, but the traveler won't part with it. After he wipes out many of the dictator's thugs who've been ordered to take it from him, Eli continues on his way, not happy that Solara has joined him.

As they continue west, they must not only contend with various locals they encounter -- such as the older Martha (FRANCES DE LA TOUR) and George (MICHAEL GAMBON) -- but also Carnegie and his thugs, including Redridge, Hoyt (JOE PINGUE) and others, who are in hot pursuit of them.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
The action angle might draw in teens, especially if they're into post-apocalyptic stories and/or are fans of anyone in the cast.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For some brutal violence and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • DENZEL WASHINGTON plays a solemn loner who's traveling west across the remains of post-apocalyptic America. Quite resourceful at surviving, he doesn't want any trouble from anyone, but will defend both himself -- even to the point of killing others -- and the highly valued book in his possession. Deeply religious, he does what he can to follow his higher calling, and reluctantly takes on Solara as his unlikely and unwanted traveling companion.
  • GARY OLDMAN plays the educated but ruthless dictator of a small town who sends his henchmen on a never-ending quest to find the book he believes will give him the ultimate power over others. Accordingly, he's responsible for the murders of others, physically abuses and threatens both Solara and her mother, and tries to convince -- any way he can -- Eli to join him and/or give up the book. He uses strong profanity.
  • MILA KUNIS plays his young adult stepdaughter of sorts who must contend with him physically abusing her and offering her sexual services when he believes they will help his cause. She ends up rebelling and joining Eli, but does so without his blessing. She briefly uses strong profanity.
  • RAY STEVENSON plays Carnegie's main henchman who's ordered to get the book from Eli no matter what that takes. Realizing he has the upper-hand due to the declining number of his cohorts, he barters his allegiance to Carnegie in exchange for being given Solara as his woman.
  • JENNIFER BEALS plays Solara's blind mother, Carnegie's mistress who must contend with his mood swings of treating her nicely and then violently.
  • EVAN JONES plays one of the dictator's thugs who's the first to learn just how capable Eli is in defending himself.
  • JOE PINGUE plays another of Carnegie's thugs who's ordered to find Eli and get his book from him.
  • FRANCES DE LA TOUR and MICHAEL GAMBON play an older farm couple who've become quite resourceful at defending and feeding themselves. They briefly use strong profanity.
  • TOM WAITS plays a local shopkeeper who barters with Eli in exchange for charging his old digital music player.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated action/drama. Profanity consists of at least 12 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Some sexually related dialogue is present, and a woman is offered as a sexual gift to a man who declines, while some real hookers are briefly seen.

    Violence consists of many action and fight scenes where characters are killed or wounded in various ways (gunfire, stabbing & slicing, arrows, explosions, etc.) with varying degrees of bloody results (including some dismemberment). Some of that behavior might be enticing for kids to try to imitate, while those scenes and moments of potential peril might be unsettling and/or suspenseful to some viewers.

    Bad attitudes are present, as are thematic elements, tense family material, and some drinking. If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, there's a little bit of that from some fire flicker.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there are varying amounts of camera movement during the various fight and action scenes. There's also a low angle point of view camera shot racing down a highway, while there's some camera movement in a scene set in a rocking rowboat.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • We see an old wrecked, brand-name beer truck.
  • People drink what's presumably alcohol in the town's bar.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • The camera pans down a dead body lying in the woods with a handgun near it. We then see Eli lying in wait, arrow at the ready, to kill a wild cat for food. As the cat goes to the dead man's bare foot and starts to feed on that (contact not seen), Eli fires his arrow that strikes and instantly kills the cat. As he pulls the arrow out, we see some blood on that. We later see him eating some of the cooked cat meat, and he feeds a piece to a wild mouse that comes out.
  • We see some large and bad-looking scars on Eli's bare torso.
  • A woman pleads for Eli's help, but he recognizes it's a trap and calls it as such. Various men then come out and surround him, with one shoving him. Eli warns the man that he won't get his hand back if he does that again, and proceeds to chop that off with one quick slice of his blade (with bloody results and views of the stump and severed hand). The others then attack him with large metal pipes -- in a fully silhouetted scene -- but he avoids being hit while slicing, stabbing and hitting all of them. Most are killed quickly, but he has to take out two more resilient ones, including a large guy with a chainsaw who gets sliced and has his arm cut off. During that, we see the silhouetted image of blood spurting out, etc. but not any full views. He then goes back to the leader and slowly pushes his large blade through that man's torso while holding him close (we hear but don't see the deadly impact) and then see him wiping blood from his blade.
  • Martz grabs Eli in a bar, with Eli quickly grabbing and slamming Martz's head to the counter (resulting in a bloody mouth) where he then holds him by his neck. Others then surround Eli who quickly dispatches many of them, slicing, punching and wounding/killing them (with some quick, bloody results).
  • Some impact in a big gun battle has bloody results.
  • Two men grab and throw Solara about (including into a large concrete pipe), bloodying her face as they prepare to rape her (and she kicks at them). As one starts to pull down his pants (no nudity), an arrow suddenly rips through his crotch, bloodying and killing him. An arrow then rips through the other man's neck, similarly bloodying and killing him.
  • George and Martha offer a plate of meat to Eli and Solara, and they (and we) realize it's human meat.
  • There are varying degrees of bloodiness in another big battle featuring gunfire and explosives.
  • Carnegie shoots Eli in the torso, downing him. Eli, whose shirt is then bloody, struggles to stand and pulls a switchblade, but then goes back down again.
  • Solara strangles a driver from behind, causing a bad car wreck with some tumbling down the road. She's bloodied but okay, but another man has a large blade through his chest (we don't know about the driver). He pulls that out (with bloody results on his chest, the blade, and his face).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Various thugs try to attack Eli, using a woman as their bait to lure him in.
  • A motorcycle gang rides by a couple, with one knocking the man down. That victim is then shot dead, while various men then grab and manhandle the woman (all seen from a distance, with rape somewhat implied).
  • Carnegie runs his town like an educated and occasionally violent dictator (and orders and/or doesn't care about the murders his men commit).
  • Redridge stands in front of Solara's path, and we initially think he's just being a jerk, but later learn he has a thing for her (albeit in a possession sort of way).
  • When Solara won't tell Carnegie what he wants to hear about Eli, Carnegie grabs Claudia by the hair and causes her pain.
  • Redridge barters with Carnegie about exchanging his help to get the book for having Solara as his own.
  • Two men grab and throw Solara about (including into a large concrete pipe), bloodying her face as they prepare to rape her (and she kicks at them) but Eli puts an end to that.
  • To make Eli state where the Bible is, Carnegie grabs Solara by her hair, causing her pain, and then holds a handgun on her.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence," "Blood/Gore" and "Jump Scenes" may be unsettling, suspenseful or scary to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material.
  • We see a human skeleton in a long-abandoned car.
  • Eli slowly makes his way through a home, cautiously opening doors and such. When he gets to a closet, he discovers a dead and recently hung body hanging there.
  • Two men grab and throw Solara about (including into a large concrete pipe), bloodying her face as they prepare to rape her (and she kicks at them). As one starts to pull down his pants (no nudity), an arrow suddenly rips through his crotch, bloodying and killing him. An arrow then rips through the other man's neck, similarly bloodying and killing him.
  • Eli and Solara go up to an old farmhouse, but when he tries the door, a trap floor drops both of them into a pit, with George then appearing and aiming his shotgun at them. After they convince him and Martha they mean no harm, the older couple serves them tea, but Eli and Solara realize they're cannibals and try to excuse themselves. But they then see that Carnegie and his men have arrived, followed by a massive battle.
  • Solara and Eli nearly drive off a damaged bridge, stopping just in time at the edge.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Rifles/Shotguns/Machine guns/Missile/Grenades/Machete-like blade/Switchblade: Carried and/or used to threaten, wound or kill others and/or cause property damage. See "Violence" for details.
  • Throughout the film, Eli is armed with and often defends himself with a large machete (or similar blade), shotgun and handgun.
  • One of Carnegie's goons is atop a building holding a rifle at the ready.
  • A suspicious shopkeeper aims his shotgun at Eli when the latter enters his shop. Eli quickly grabs and aims the gun at him, but then gives it back to prove he intends no harm.
  • While locked in a room as Carnegie's "guest," Eli has his handgun at the ready.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Take off the f*cking pack," "Can you believe this f*cking guy?" "F*ck you," "A f*cking book," "Let's get the f*ck out of here," "He's just a f*cking man," "F*ck the china," "I know what the f*ck I'm doing," "F*cking bastards," "You're f*cking sh*tting me," "No sh*t you're not from around here," "A sh*t-load of books," "Oh sh*t," "I sure as hell could use it" and "You shut your mouth."
  • The fighting, action and other stunts might be enticing for some kids to try to imitate.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • Eli suddenly kicks in a door. Moments later, he yanks open a cabinet (both seen from the inside, thus creating the jump element). Moments later, he opens a closet and discovers a dead and recently hung body hanging there.
  • An arrow suddenly rips through a man's clothed crotch.
  • A man suddenly grabs Solara's hand when she goes to drive a vehicle.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • An extreme amount of ominous, suspenseful and heavily dramatic music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 12 "f" words, 7 "s" words, 1 slang term using female genitals ("p*ssy"), 2 S.O.B.s, 1 hell and what sounded like 1 use of "G-damn."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We briefly see Eli shirtless as he washes himself off, and he briefly runs his hand down the front of his pants, but we don't see any nudity.
  • A woman shows some cleavage.
  • Carnegie tells one of his goons, having just returned with various books for Carnegie, to go get some "p*ssy" for himself and his men.
  • We see what are presumably hookers in a bar.
  • Against Claudia's objections, Carnegie sends Solara to have sex with Eli as a way of convincing him to stay in town and join Carnegie's forces. Solara shows up in a sexy, cleavage-revealing dress, and when she realizes Eli isn't receptive, she says if he's worried about paying, it's on the house. He then asks what is (knowing full well what she's offering), with her saying she'll be in trouble if she doesn't stay the night, telling him he can report the next morning that he had a good time. Nothing happens between them, and when she later returns to Carnegie's office the next morning, she states they didn't do much talking.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Against Claudia's objections, Carnegie sends Solara to have sex with Eli as a way of convincing him to stay in town and join Carnegie's forces (that doesn't happen, but the order causes her mother stress).
  • When Solara won't tell Carnegie what he wants to hear about Eli, Carnegie grabs Claudia by the hair and causes her pain (and thus Solara stress).
  • An older man sees his wife die in a battle with Carnegie's men.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The film's presentation of what a post-apocalyptic world would look like.
  • The fact that in the post-apocalyptic future, water is the "good stuff" in a bar.
  • There's talk that all surviving Bibles were burned following the war due to the power that the book possessed.
  • Carnegie wants to use the Bible as a means of controlling others, saying it's a weapon and that if the words come from a book, others will follow him. He then adds it happened before and will happen again.
  • Eli states that some people said the Bible was the reason for the war in the past.
  • Eli states a voice told him to find and then take the Bible west, and that he would be protected along the way.
  • The notion and practice of religious faith.
  • The notion of doing more for others than you do for yourself.
  • Cannibalism.
  • VIOLENCE
  • The camera pans down a dead body lying in the woods with a handgun near it. We then see Eli lying in wait, arrow at the ready, to kill a wild cat for food. As the cat goes to the dead man's bare foot and starts to feed on that (contact not seen), Eli fires his arrow that strikes and instantly kills the cat. As he pulls the arrow out, we see some blood on that.
  • A woman pleads for Eli's help, but he recognizes it's a trap and calls it as such. Various men then come out and surround him, with one shoving him. Eli warns the man that he won't get his hand back if he does that again, and proceeds to chop that off with one quick slice of his blade (with bloody results and views of the stump and severed hand). The others then attack him with large metal pipes -- in a fully silhouetted scene -- but he avoids being hit while slicing, stabbing and hitting all of them. Most are killed quickly, but he has to take out two more resilient ones, including a large guy with a chainsaw who gets sliced and has his arm cut off. During that, we see the silhouetted image of blood spurting out, etc. but not any full views. He then goes back to the leader and slowly pushes his large blade through that man's torso while holding him close (we hear but don't see the deadly impact) and then see him wiping blood from his blade.
  • A motorcycle gang rides by a couple, with one knocking the man down. That victim is then shot dead, while various men then grab and manhandle the woman (all seen from a distance, with rape somewhat implied).
  • Martz grabs Eli in a bar, with Eli quickly grabbing and slamming Martz's head to the counter (resulting in a bloody mouth) where he then holds him by his neck. Others then surround Eli who quickly dispatches many of them, slicing, punching and wounding/killing them (with some quick, bloody results). But Redridge and a few others aim their guns at Eli, thus putting an end to his action.
  • When Solara won't tell Carnegie what he wants to hear about Eli, Carnegie grabs Claudia by the hair and causes her pain.
  • Redridge matter-of-factly shoots a guard in the head, killing him.
  • Following orders from Carnegie, Redridge twice tries to shoot Eli as he's walking away, but misses both times. That's followed by a gun battle where Eli shoots many men, first with his handgun, and then his shotgun, with one such blast also getting Carnegie in the leg. Some of that has bloody results.
  • Two men grab and throw Solara about (including into a large concrete pipe), bloodying her face as they prepare to rape her (and she kicks at them). As one starts to pull down his pants (no nudity), an arrow suddenly rips through his crotch, bloodying and killing him. An arrow then rips through the other man's neck, similarly bloodying and killing him.
  • Eli fires an arrow through a vulture, killing it (for food).
  • Carnegie and his men arrive at and surround a farmhouse where Eli and Solara are about to leave the company of George and Martha. A bomb is tossed out from the house and explodes, followed by a massive gun battle where various men are hit on the outside. A grenade blows one of Carnegie's men back, while another fires a missile into the house, killing Martha. George then shoots several men, but is mowed down by a Gatling gun that riddles the house with bullets. All of that has varying degrees of bloodiness.
  • To make Eli state where the Bible is, Carnegie grabs Solara by her hair, causing her pain, and then holds a handgun on her.
  • Carnegie shoots Eli in the torso, downing him. Eli, whose shirt is then bloody, struggles to stand and pulls a switchblade, but then goes back down again.
  • Solara strangles a driver from behind, causing a bad car wreck with some tumbling down the road. She's bloodied but okay, but another man has a large blade through his chest (we don't know about the driver). He pulls that out (with bloody results on his chest, the blade, and his face) and gets out, but then kneels down and apparently dies on the road that way. Seeing other vehicles coming her way, Solara then rolls a grenade in their direction, with it exploding beneath one vehicle, destroying it.
  • We see people fighting and struggling with others inside a bar, including some men manhandling a woman. We see another man calmly load his shotgun, but don't know what happens with that.



  • Reviewed January 11, 2010 / Posted January 15, 2010

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