Last night, a few of us decided to hit the theaters. I haven't been to the movie theater in a while, and I knew this Book Of ELI sparked my interest a few months ago. So we decided to go and see what was new up Denzel's sleeve.
First of all, it's Rated R for a reason. There's a ton of violence, sexual innuendos, and overall adult themes, but the core of this film is unlike anything we've seen before.
The premise, Eli (Denzel Washington) is walking west. He eats off the land, protects himself from hijackers with a vicious blade, and is on a mission. He explains it in the movie, "After the blast he heard a voice tell him to walk west where he could take the book (The King James Bible) to a place where it would be kept safe."
The movie is set in some sort of apocalyptic time where everyone was in survival mode. Much like Mad Max back in the 80's, this time is one of scarce resources where only the tough survive. If you can stomach the battle scenes, the message will blow you away.
Eli takes the book through a town where Carnegie (Gary Oldman) is looking for "The book." Several times they refer to the power of the words in the book, and it's power to transform and lead people. So Carnegie is on the hunt for the book for his own personal power game.
One of the most powerful points in the movie is when Carnegie and his thugs have Eli cornered, and they ask for the book. Mind you, Eli has been protecting the book with his very life, but for some reason, he gives it over to the motley crew. Eli's walking partner asks, "I never thought you'd ever give up that book." And Eli replies, "I took for granted just reading it. I better live my life and do what it says."
I won't ruin it for you any more. This is an interesting look at how to present the gospel in a vehicle our culture can hear and will understand. I haven't read any secular reviews on the film, but there is no subtlety here. The Gospel of Jesus is CLEAR. The message of the Bible is CLEAR. The power of God's Word is CLEAR. It's just driven by some pretty gross violent scenes.
Denzel Washington an Gary Oldman are brilliant actors and carried the movie with poise and style. This may go down as a classic once the culture figures out what do to with the message.