By Kyle | January 12, 2010
Hollywood’s Christian blockbuster is finally here. Remember how, after “The Passion of the Christ,” Hollywood was going to get wise and make some big mainstream movies that acknowledged the Christianity of a majority of this country? Didn’t happen. Until now. “The Book of Eli” is not only a well-done action picture but an overtly, unabashedly Christian one in which Denzel Washington plays a soldier of God. He’s on a divinely-inspired quest — yes, a literal mission from God — to take The Book to the West as a swarm of wrongdoers led by Gary Oldman try to stop him.
In a post-apocalyptic wasteland (the movie hedges its bets on the usual war-or-environment question: this time, both have occurred), an unidentified man known as the Walker (a badass Denzel) strolls through the nightmare defending himself and slaying vicious predators who try to rob him along the way. The one semi-organized remnant of humanity is led by a Mussolini-loving leader (Gary Oldman) who is introduced reading a copy of a bio of Il Duce. Oldman has sent his gangs out looking for a copy of a specific book, although his men are dunces and can’t read.
They come back with whatever books they can scrounge up — including, hilariously, a copy of “The Da Vinci Code” (the movie is landing a little jab on the Dan Brown book’s message) but not The Book.
Because the only copy left of the Bible is the one Denzel is determined to carry to the West, having heard the voice of God commanding him to do so. Moreover, the Walker seems to be divinely protected: In a shootout, every bullet seems to whiz past him. Even the heavy villains have started to notice the aura of untouchability about him, and they find it unnerving.
The Oldman character wants The Book because he’s convinced its words will enable him to control the world, not just the dirtbag town he oversees. But the Walker is the Christ standin determined to redeem mankind with the Bible.
The movie is ingeniously designed, the action set pieces are well-executed and it has wit (who would have guessed what the last 45 rpm record in the world might be?). It’s also got guns galore. It’s like “The Road Warrior” as rewritten by St.
Peter Paul. (But note: It also has a fond shout-out to Islam and Judaism). It’s going to do heavenly business at the box office.
A couple of readers want to know what the shout-out to Islam is. I’m reluctant to give it away, since doing so would involve telling you the entire last act of the movie, which contains lots of surprises, but let’s just say it’s a respectful reference to the Koran. (Or the Qu’ran, as the movie calls it.)