The Book of Eli 2010

Critics score:
48 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: It's obvious what the book is and the resolution to this quest tale is silly beyond belief. Denzel just plays it quiet, tough and cool, as if that alone will carry the film. Read more

A.O. Scott, At the Movies: I'm not going to give it away, but there's a final plot twist in this movie that is beyond absurd. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: Shot on nimble, lightweight Red digital cameras, the film may traffic in familiar landscapes and archetypes, but it allows its cast the space and time to make the characters breathe. Read more

James Rocchi, MSN Movies: Your brain, and, yes, your soul, long for ... a film that walked either the straight and narrow path of righteousness or blazed some new trail instead of frustratingly sticking with such faith and fervor to the middle of the road. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: While the religious content makes itself felt, sometimes strongly, the heavy action quotient -- the story of Eli the slasher -- tears feelings to tatters. Read more

John Hartl, Seattle Times: The fixation on the Bible (and biblical-scale cloud formations) gets awfully pompous at times, especially when it's used to justify gory dismemberments. Read more

Scott Tobias, AV Club: Working from a script by Gary Whitta, the Hughes brothers, Albert and Allen, have made a stark affirmation of faith as a guiding light for a broken, lawless civilization, but to their credit, the film stops well short of proselytizing. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: Truly, if one must wander a barren, post-apocalyptic landscape with somebody, who better to wander with than Denzel Washington? Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: The Book of Eli is The Road with twice the plot, four times the ammunition, and half the brains; it'll probably make 10 times the money. Read more

Cliff Doerksen, Chicago Reader: The sepia-toned palette gets a little wearying, but the dialogue is hilarious, the violence is crunchy, and cameos by Tom Waits and topflight Brit character actor Michael Gambon are worth the ticket price alone. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: Washington doesn't look as if he's having much fun, and who can blame him? Read more

Tom Maurstad, Dallas Morning News: What strength and intensity the movie musters begins and ends with Washington. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: A stylish, gritty fantasy feature that wrestles with the agonies, joys and eternal wrinkles of faith and evil and the dangerous minuet they do. Read more

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: A ponderous dystopian bummer that might be described as The Road Warrior without car chases, or The Road without humanity. Read more

Laremy Legel, The Hughes brothers' film feels more vibrant than the bleak Road, which was launched at us in November. Here the brothers show us the horror but somehow the staid and calm Denzel feels more approachable than the distraught and scrambling Viggo. Read more

Jonathan F. Richards, T's a post-apocalyptic western, it's an evangelical tract, it's a road movie, it's a martial arts movie, it's a disaster movie, it's a graphic novel. It's equal parts The Road and The Robe, A Fistful of Dollars and Fist of Fury. It's Mad Max meets Left Be Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: You'd expect The Book of Eli to offer something special enough to have lured the brothers from retirement, but the Hugheses settle for serving up all the usual cliches... Read more

Lisa Miller, Newsweek: For those of us in the reading and writing business-for anyone, really, who loves the written word-the movie has a powerful resonance. It reminds us that literacy can't be taken for granted. Read more

Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: You'd want a guy like Denzel around when the end is nigh. Too bad The Book of Eli is so preachy it buries the subtlety he brings forth. Read more

Lou Lumenick, New York Post: The filmmakers have an unusually persuasive star in Washington, who can sell lines like, "We had more than we needed" and "I walk by faith, not by sight." Read more

Rex Reed, New York Observer: Even after the action leads to a final series of revelations that render everything else preposterous, you will still feel the adrenaline. Boredom is not an option. Read more

Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer: Washington, ever potent, brings to the role the full force of his thousand-mile stare and regenerative smile. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: The problem with The Book of Eli is that the narrative isn't a match for its sentiments. The script feels like it's an iteration or two short of a final draft. Read more

Richard Roeper, Richard Bold and innovative, spiritually challenging--and some heads get chopped off. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: I'm at a loss for words, so let me say these right away: The Book of Eli is very watchable. You won't be sorry you went. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: The Book of Eli isn't as exciting or funny or inspiring as it wants and needs to be, and its preachy ending is an ordeal. But Washington, a movie star who can act, is one cool dude who is worth following anywhere. Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, The Hughes Brothers may want us to think they're giving us a few deep, quasi-spiritual ideas, but what they're really serving up is earnestly shallow, machete-and-bow-and-arrow entertainment. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: A dynamic story, sprinkled with some interesting ideas about the preciousness of culture and how societies might rebuild themselves. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Travolta had his Battlefield Earth, Costner had his Waterworld and now Denzel Washington has his truly awful sci-fi epic, The Book of Eli. Read more

Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The Book of Eli doesn't quite achieve the greatness to which it so clearly aspires. But how many sci-fi flicks have Al Green on the soundtrack? Read more

Rick Groen, Globe and Mail: Really, it's just another prophet-in-the-wilderness tale -- not nearly as bad as those trailers would suggest, yet neither will your soul run any risk of enlightenment. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: A movie weighed down by a numbskull screenplay (by rookie Gary Whitta) and a careless lack of attention to details. Read more

Hank Sartin, Time Out: Read more

Keith Uhlich, Time Out: Thank the pallid green heavens for Flashdance's Jennifer Beals, positively ravishing as a sightless kept woman who acts as the story's oracle. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: Poetic psalms uttered amid stylized violence are disconcerting. Religion and bloodshed, though linked through much of history, make queasy entertainment partners. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Variety: Iconically effective as a single-minded messenger with a mission, Washington's Eli is ultimately too confined by the man-of-few-words movie norms he's saddled with. Read more

Nick Pinkerton, Village Voice: The rest of the rote splatter-violence has Denzel whirlwind lopping off heads through philistine hordes, sequences only good for insight into what PS3 games the Hugheses were playing in pre-production. Read more

Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post: A hyper-violent, post-apocalyptic Western in the mold of Mad Max that can't make up its mind whether it wants to be corny or misanthropic. Read more