The Book of Eli (15)

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The Independent Culture

The Hughes Brothers' first film since From Hell looks like The Road redux.

There's the same ravaged landscape, ashen skies, abandoned cars and marauding gangs of cannibal predators. But lo, there comes a hero, and though he walks through the Valley of the Shadow of Death he shall fear no evil, for he is the prophet Denzel Washington and carries a great big sword with which to dispatch the foe.

He's also in possession of a leather-bound book which the boss (Gary Oldman) of the local town – a fetid coven of thieves and thugs – yearns to get his hands on and thus subjugate the people forever. What can this tome be? "The Best Places to Eat Post-Apocalypse"? Denzel, helped by a virtuous young friend (Mila Kunis), continues his long trek West, and the film, stretching credibility, snaps it altogether on introducing a couple of wilderness ranchers (played by Frances de la Tour and Michael Gambon). I'm not kidding – and nor is Denzel, who marches piously through all perils, including a fatal gunshot, to his final triumph as the Wise Man of Alcatraz. Just how badly does this guy want beatification? Perhaps someone should remind him that the Book in question mentions vanity as a sin.

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