NEW YORK – Directed by twins Albert and Allen Hughes, “The Book of Eli” incorporates religious faith and Judeo-Christian principles to a surprising degree, and exhibits sufficient reverence for the Bible. Yet its coarse language and violence could fuel the opinion that Hollywood should avoid all sacred texts. It does not endorse aggression as a means to redemption.

Fight sequences are balanced with morbid humour; and violence tamed by frequent meditative passages. The directors also paint optimism amidst mankind’s bleak future.

The movie centres on a prophetic hero driven by faith and hope. In the near future, following a climactic disaster that precipitated “the last war”, Eli (Denzel Washington) has spent 30 years traversing the blighted landscape of the western United States carrying the only extant copy of The King James Bible after bookes were burned, and libraries pillaged.
Eli’s belief that he is shielded by God appears to be well-founded after he arrives at a dusty town run by Carnegie (Gary Oldman) whose minions try to bring him every book they can find. Carnegie controls the water supply but wants to increase his power over the surviving population by wielding the words of the Bible.

Eli’s religioisity is portrayed in his safeguarding and transportation of the Bible, reading it daily and quoting from it often. He also prays – most notably at the end of the film, when he gives thanks to God and confesses the sins he committed as the Good Book’s chosen courier. The most explicit expression of Christian doctrine comes when Eli tells Solara (Mila Kunis), Carnegie’s daughter when she hits the road with Eli, becoming a disciple of sorts, what he has learned from his in-depth study of Scripture, namely, “Do more for others than you do for yourself.”

The film contains intermittent strong violence, much rough language, some crude language, and brief sexual innuendo. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L – limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. n

McCarthy is a guest reviewer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office for Film & Broadcasting. More reviews are available online at

Denzel Washington stars in a scene from the movie “The Book of Eli”. which will open in Singapore on Mar 18 with an NC-16 rating. CNS photo

By John P. McCarthy

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