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The Bedtime Story of Eli

March 19, 2010 10:09 IST

The trouble with post-apocalyptic movies is that they tend to be just so darn downbeat -- the moody lighting, the gloomy skies, the desolate landscapes... yes we get it!

We have been bad to our planet and one day, a cleansing rain (or fire or water) is going to come and destroy us. Oooh, I'm really scared now!

There are some things that are just not worth denying. One of those things would be that Denzel Washington is a badass. Everything he does and most of the things he says are super cool and even when he's in a movie that seems a less than perfect fit for his 'movie star with brains' (and attitude) status, such a movie is only improved by his presence.

Still, seriously, Mr Washington! I know that at your age, you want to only make a movie when you think you can hang out and have a good time with the people involved, while also being able to collect your massive pay cheque, but seriously? This?

Let me see if I can summarize the plot of The Book Of Eli without straining my brain. Mr Washington plays a lone 'walker' who has been heading west for 30-plus years, after a 'war' destroyed large chunks of civilization. He is on his journey because he has to deliver a certain precious cargo to someone, out west.

Along the way, he encounters hijackers and other human detritus that is trying to carve out a living for itself in debilitated times. Now our lonely traveler is no slouch when it comes to defending himself. Super quick with a nasty looking blade and super accurate with guns, he is unafraid to take lives en route to his final destination.

So far, so conventional. I can even see how the idea of playing an agile warrior would appeal to a man quickly approaching his sixtieth birthday.

But I still don't see how decision makers in expensive suits felt that the average person would part with their hard earned money to watch a movie that features walking, squinting at the sky, sudden short bursts of violence and a never-intimidating performance as the villain by Gary Oldman.

Would I watch this movie if it happened to be playing on television while I was flipping channels? Maybe, if I happened to come in during a fight or when Mila Kunis made one of her brief appearances. The rest of the time, I'd just keep going until I found ESPN or a bad Hindi movie from the eighties.

The plot has holes you could drive a truck through and it really grates on the viewing experience when filmmakers bend time and space to their convenience without once sparing a thought for the plight of audience members who haven't had a lobotomy.

How did she get out of the locked room? How fast does he walk, that his pursuers cannot catch up even though they are driving? How fast was she walking that he was able to double back so effectively to save the day? These are all questions related to a single section of the movie and they are not the only ones I have.

I know that suspending disbelief is part and parcel of the movie-going experience but it still doesn't excuse filmmakers from exercising a brain cell or two in the service of structure, pacing and defining the sheer geography of their environment.

So really, if you are a die-hard Denzel Washington fan who must watch everything the man has been in, wait for this movie on DVD. And then buy me something nice with the money you saved from avoiding a trip to the theatres.

Rediff Rating:

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