The Book of Eli (2010)

(In theatres, January 2010) Genre-hopping movies are fun if the genres mesh together, which is why no one will bat an eye when The Book of Eli crosses back and forth between action and post-apocalyptic science-fiction, reminding viewers of Mad Max and The Road along the way.  But (spoilers!) when the movie takes a sharp turn toward evangelical apologia in its third act, it’s as if the rules of the picture change abruptly: the invincible hero has divine protection, the lousy world-building becomes an intentional sop to a certain audience and you can hear an audible crack as individual suspensions of disbelief break down.  It’s not helped by a sepia-tinged self-important tone (complete with persecution complex) that makes it impossible to claim special camp-craziness dispensation.  Aw well; it’s not as if The Book of Eli is a complete loss: As crazy as the last act turns out to be, much of the film has a few qualities worth noticing, from capable direction by the Hugues brothers to a handful of well-presented action sequences, to a capable performance by Denzel Washington.  It’s a shame, then, that Denzel (who also co-produced the film) should use The Book of Eli to reveal his evangelical complex to the world at large.  It could have been a far better film without the last-minute slide in fantasy.

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