Saved By Denzel

Mr. W. & I caught The Book of Eli last night: a solid B movie I would describe as a post-apocalyptic Western. Westerns are works of political philosophy, about imposition of the rule of law on lawless territories, and this is a story about the reclaiming of civilization after nuclear holocaust.

Eli is a survivor of the war and protector of the only surviving copy of the King James Bible. A solitary figure with mysterious powers and insight, he is on a mission from God to carry the Bible "West" to where the Almighty has a plan for it.  Clean water is at a premium, food is scarce, and bands of outlaws, ruffians and frontier tyrants lie in his path.

There's not too much more one can say about the plot without spoilers, but I will say that every part is perfectly cast, Gary Oldman is a magnificent villain, Tom Waits is fantastic in a turn as the proprietor of a General Store of sorts, and Denzel Washington has a manly presence that I think no other leading man of our time does --or anyway no one I can think of as I'm writing this. He was a way of filling silences that none of his peers can touch, which makes him fascinating on screen. The movie is race-free. In the many confrontations between Denzel's Eli and marauders, there was ample opportunity for that note to inject itself, but the directors resisted, bless them, which was refreshing, as is a plot which offers a subtle but unmistakable rebuke to our contemporary iconoclasts and Know-Nothings.

The imagining of post-nuclear America is wonderfully observed --pay a lot of attention to what's in the background of each scene if you see it. In sum: a very good, if not great, film, with interesting Christian overtones --very worthwhile if one is not squeamish about the raw language and brutal violence of a lawless world. (Loads of violence, only some gore, however, if that helps.)