At first “The Book of Eli” seems to be a warmed over episode of “Mad Max.” The story opens 30 years after an apocalyptic war, referred to as "The Big Flash." Major cities are literally crumbing apart, cats (if you can catch one) are on the menu, water and wet toilets are used for barter, open roads are filled with cutthroat motorcycle riders and lawlessness is the order of the day.
But that’s where the comparison with “Mad Max” ends. Shot in a rustic color to punctuated the desperation of the era, hijackers along the road mistake Eli (Denzel Washington) as peaceful man, who in self-defense is an unbelievable killing machine capable of wielding knives and guns with clockwork precision. Eli (we know his name is Eli because he has a name tag that says, “Hello, My Name is Eli,”) has been walking west guided only by faith. He walks with purpose through a nuclear wasteland searching for a place where humanity has a future. A place where he can deliver a book he’s been charged with protecting.
However, Eli’s trek is interrupted when arrives at a Western town ruled by Carnegie (Gary Oldman) a typical Western movie town boss whose bar is filled with a plenitude of hired guns and whores.
Carnegie discovers that Eli has the only remaining copy of the book he’s been desperately searching years for. The book supposedly has the words to bring people of the world back together. With the book in hand, Carnegie thinks he can expand his town and build others where he can bring order and control the residence. At first he tries to buy the book from Eli, then he tries to take it. A few shootouts and knife fights later, Eli escapes Carnegie’s town with the help of Solara (Mila Kunis) Carnegie daughter in tow. The pair continue west hoping to reach the book’s final destination, all the while fending off cannibals, hijackers with Carnegie’s gang in hot pursuit.
Save for a predictable “Fahrenheit 451” ending, “The Book of Eli” is an extremely thought provoking film that will have audiences talking about its message in the lobby, at the bus stop and at the water cooler.