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Review: The Book of Eli

I liked a lot of it, mostly due to the great cinematography and washed out wasteland look. Denzel's action scenes with that machete of his were also pretty kick ass. The premise, with the titular book, is a legitimately intriguing and meaningful take on the somewhat tired post-apocalyptic wasteland archetype.

But it's got two glaring issues that I'll never be convinced were good.

1)

Mila Kunis is acting like Mila Kunis. This is supposed to be a girl born after the Big Event, so... logically, shouldn’t she be a somewhat stunted, emotionally scarred survivor who’s only barely grasping the fundamentals of civility? Yet here we have Mila Kunis, acting much like any normal 18 year old American teen would.

There's no normal schooling or education, no leisure or entertainment like television, etc. And Carnegie's not shy about whoring her out. Was life under his rule really that great? Mila Kunis conveyed not a wit of the trauma of the new world, and there should've been quite a bit in my eyes.

I couldn’t believe in her character, not in a land where water is a commodity and people are resorting to random rape and cannibalism. Now, it’s logical that she might’ve simply built up a hard exterior to the horrors of the new world. But we don't see this either. She doesn't act like she's withdrawn and protective, she simply acts like a modern day American high school girl, plucked out of class and stuck into the movie. There's no inner depth or nuance to Kunis's portrayal. She doesn't look like she's had to survive in this vastly different world, or bottled up her inner trauma or pain. She's just flat.

2)

The twist at the end. I’m sorry... but no, that’s not believable. I thought I was watching a post-apocalyptic survival story, not a Marvel superhero movie. That final reveal makes no sense and left me baffled.

Blind people aren't completely helpless, but they certainly aren't capable of doing what he did. Why would he have super-fine-tuned senses? Is he supposed to be Daredevil? We accept Daredevil's superhero attributes because... well, it's a silly superhero movie. It's not that serious. Book of Eli, on the other hand, presents itself as this grim and gritty, very grounded post-apocalyptic story. He's scavenging around the wasteland and picking shoes off of dead bodies and hunting cats to eat. It's a bleak and desperate environment. Turning the character into a superhero makes no sense and feels tonally dissonant.

And I’ve heard some people suggest that perhaps God actually gave him magical sight to see. But no, it's not any better if it was some form of divine intervention. In fact, that's the cheapest excuse I can think of. If it was some divine intervention from God, then... why didn't God simply magically whisk him all the way to Alcatraz? Or make him bulletproof so Carnegie couldn't kill him? The entire story is about Eli's faith keeping him strong and him going to the book for sustenance. He believes in the book because of its words, not because God actually miraculously goes and gives him actual sight. The entire movie falls apart if this is what actually happened. The theme is about the power of the book, and how it can be used for good, or evil. It's not about God actually giving people superpowers.

So... good on Gary Whitta for conceiving of the main story, but... boo on him for that ending.

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