The Book of Eli
Silver Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures
“Christ’s message was revolutionizing; His words simple, yet profound. And his words either provoked happy acceptance or violent rejection. Men were never the same after listening to Him.” — Billy Graham
These words from a man thought of as one of the world’s best evangelists rings true for this movie. My perception of the film hung on the picture painted by the trailer: sacrilege that twists and warps God’s word as it presents a man on a killing mission by seemingly using a strange book for his protection. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The film carries the most powerful message I’ve seen about Christianity and faith since The Passion of the Christ. Its violence is a far cry from what happened 2,000 years ago in Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified. Rather, it’s raw, real, gives hope and depicts what it really means to walk out faith. After seeing the movie, at first I was a little perturbed the synopsis doesn’t do the movie justice. Then I came to the realization if that’s what it takes for people to see this movie and receive its message that every man and woman can live out an extraordinary life despite flaws and excuses, then perhaps the vague synposis and seemingly action-packed trailer will do the job of getting people into theaters to watch it.
The Book of Eli follows the story of Eli (Denzel Washington) on a journey westward. Set in the future 30 years after the last world war, he walks across America, making his way through a lawless world full of desolate cities, broken roads, thieves and any destruction imaginable with a book he’ll kill to defend. He isn’t the only one who thinks the book he carries is special. Carnegie (Gary Oldman) wants it, too. He sees it as a weapon, a way to manipulate the weak to do his selfish biddings, as he puts it. He’s the ying to Eli’s yang. He’ll kill to get the book and twist its words to get the nearly 100-percent illiterate population who have never heard of it to hang on his every word.
The catalyst that brings these two men together comes in the form of Carnegie’s stepdaughter Solara (Mila Kunis). She wants to know what the book Elie holds so dear says and will leave her family and everything she knows behind to find out. In the process, her hunger for the knowledge reminds Eli the point of his faith — to live it out by the Golden Rule to do unto others as you’d have done unto you and to share its message because it’s about loving people enough to tell them there’s a point to life and more to live for.
What I love about this movie is it doesn’t paint Washington’s character as the next messiah. Even Gary Oldman’s character states he’s just a man, one who knows what he’s heard and believes it. That resolution is called faith.
Is it worth it in the end? Absolutely. The Book of Eli doesn’t present the message of hope in the form of having to relive Christ’s crucifixtion like The Passion of the Christ; rather it presents it as it should: living it out. It also raises the questions: What do you hold dear, and what are you living for?
In the end, audiences will either hate or love this movie. No one gets mad if the names Buddha, Brahma or Muhammad are spoken, but the name of Jesus harkens back to Billy Graham’s quote: It always evokes an extreme emotion.
The Book of Eli releases in the U.S. and UK Jan. 15. Click here to view the trailer.