I will start simply by saying I loved this movie. I went knowing little more than Denzel starred and Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society and Dead Presidents) directed. The opening sequence was confusing and a little disturbing, in fact you are quite a few minutes in before Denzel speaks and a few more before you understand what's really going… you know that something really, really bad has happened to Planet Earth. A brief synopsis:
Eli (also known as Walker) is a man on a mission in post-apocalyptic America. A catastrophic war has happened that turned Earth into a scorched wasteland with few natural resources (water is scarce) and a sun with little filter. Lawlessness abounds and it is an "every man for himself" world. Gangs of marauding, ill-groomed hoodlums roam the land raping, plundering and pillaging. Eli won't start a fight but he'll end it with the quickness. When challenged, he attempts peaceful solutions but ultimately has to go ninja on these fools. Eli is walking west (and has been for 30 years) to complete his mission of carrying a book to its final destination. The book is so powerful that a super evil dude (played by Gary Oldman) wants it and has been hunting for it by sending out the aforementioned hoodlums. The book is the last hope for humanity to begin again and rebuild civilization. Along the way, Eli picks up a young girl who becomes surprisingly resourceful and helpful.
Kudos to the marketing folks for not giving away the integral point of the plot (I did not either). The movie though a little violent, is a far deeper warning to society than I expected. And they are smart enough to include a twist at the end that has you rethinking the entire plot from start to finish. They are calling this an action/drama but I will tell you it's really a post-modern Western. There is a definite white hat/black hat vibe, greater good message. There is even a "cleaning up the town" scene, dust blowing up, a damsel in distress and a bar fight… it's a classic western with a smart twist.
The cinematography was stunning. There are moments where you have to pull yourself out of the beauty of the picture to remember what's happening in scene. If I had any beef with the film it's that there are apparently no sister girls that survived the war unless we're counting Jennifer Beals. Seriously, did the sisters just not want to live in a world without hair products and chap stick? O__o Anyway… you had to suspend a little disbelief at the ending too but that was to be expected.
Scruffy Denzel looks GOOD in this movie. There's this one scene with him and a wet wipe that… well – I would pay good money to go where that wipe has been. Hotness. Moving on… I was surprised by the message of the movie. I was expecting a shoot 'em up film (and would have been happy with that) but this is actually a societal lesson and a look at spirituality done with just a light enough touch and topical context to work. Long story short – go see it. Okay yes, I say that about all of Denzel's movies but… I really, really mean it this time.
Four and a half purple boots out of five. Enjoy! Has anyone else seen it? What did you think?