The Book of Eli

  • Review Date: January 7, 2010
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 118 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Future-set action epic is heavy on comic book violence.
  • Review Date: January 7, 2010
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 118 minutes

Age(i)

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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

One possible interpretation of the movie is that it has a bone to pick with organized religion, instead celebrating individual spirituality. The villain wants to obtain the last existing Bible and use it for power and control over the "weak and desperate," while the hero's goal is to protect the book and deliver it to a safe place. He reads it regularly, but given his violent nature and loner status, it's not very clear that he's learned anything from it.

Positive role models

Eli is violent, stubborn, and single-minded, but he does ultimately learn the value of trust and persistence. Occasionally he also shows honor (for example, by refusing to drink alcohol or take advantage of Solora sexually).

Violence

Extreme violence, generally of a comic book nature. Eli wields a bow and arrow and shoots both animals and people (sometimes in some very uncomfortable body parts). He also carries an enormous knife, with which he chops off hands, arms and heads. Lots of hand-to-hand combat as Eli fights off crowds of attackers; plenty of gunfights (and hand grenades) as well. The movie shows the impact of the bullets and the arrows -- including those shot at a bird and a cat -- as well as plenty of blood. Viewers see dead (and sometimes decomposing) bodies, and there's a suggestion of cannibalism. Rape and attempted rape are also suggested (sounds of ripping clothes, women's screams) both on-screen and off, in chaotic crowd scenes and, notably, in the case of one important character.

Sex

The future world presented in the movie has the equivalent of prostitutes, though they're only mentioned and rarely seen. A woman tries to seduce Eli by the side of the road by exposing her cleavage (no nudity). Later, Solara is sent to Eli's room while wearing a skimpy, cleavage-revealing dress and ordered to provide him sexual favors (though her orders are more suggested than actually spoken aloud). But Eli refuses to take advantage of her.

Language

Several uses of "f--k" and "s--t." "P---y," "hell," and "bitch" are also heard. For the record, Eli himself doesn't use foul language.

Consumerism

Some brands survive the apocalypse intact -- Eli cleans himself with (and later trades) little individually wrapped handi-wipes from KFC, and Carnegie uses a bullhorn with "Motorola" clearly marked on the side. Partial sign for Puma shoes.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some background characters drink in a bar, become surly, and assault Eli.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Book of Eli is very violent -- there's lots of weapon use, body parts getting chopped off, fighting, and dead bodies, as well as suggested rape (sounds of ripping clothes and women's screams) -- and takes place in a bleak future. But it has a "comic book" tone that keeps it from being a total downer, and it actually feels more like a Western than a sci-fi epic, with a loner hero (Denzel Washington) who wanders into a lawless town and tangles with the kingpin (Gary Oldman). The movie's subtext tackles religion: The bad guy wants to use the world's last remaining Bible to control and dominate the "weak and desperate," while the hero wants to deliver the book to a safe place. Expect some sexuality (though no nudity), strong language (including "f--k"), and -- worth mentioning again -- lots of action violence.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In a post-apocalyptic future, Eli (Denzel Washington) has one goal: to carry the last remaining copy of The Bible toward the West, hoping to find a safe place for it. Meanwhile, he encounters all kinds of villains, scoundrels, and cannibals on the road and must use his weapons and considerable combat skills to get past them. Wandering into a lawless town looking for water, he meets the educated Carnegie (Gary Oldman), who's after a copy of the Bible that he can use to control the townspeople. Eli merely wishes to continue with his mission, but Carnegie won't take no for an answer. Eli's situation gets tougher when he finds himself attached to pretty young runaway Solara (Mila Kunis).

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

As directed by twins Allen and Albert Hughes (Menace II Society, From Hell), THE BOOK OF ELI is an effective post-apocalyptic action movie with elements from both comic books and Westerns thrown in for good measure. For instance, to protect themselves from the harsh sunlight, all the characters wear sunglasses or goggles, but rather than rendering them impersonal or distant, they only ramp up the movie's cool factor.

The action is exceedingly well directed, exciting, and sometimes surprising, even if the storytelling relies on some tried-and-true chestnuts. Like the best science-fiction tales, it has an underlying agenda -- this time it's mainly about organized religion's use of the Bible -- but the message never outweighs the story's thrust. Washington is powerful as the stoic, loner hero, and Oldman happily chews the scenery as the bad guy. But Kunis' role unfortunately seems little more than a plot device.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. How does the movie's tone affect the impact of the action/fight scenes? Does it feel realistic?

  • What do movies set in post-apocalyptic futures (Children of Men, I Am Legend, The Road, etc.) have to say about the way we, as humans, feel at the moment?

  • What are the movie's messages about religion? Is it trying to make a specific statement about the subject?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 15, 2010
DVD release date:June 15, 2010
Cast:Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis
Directors:Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Action/Adventure
Run time:118 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:some brutal violence and language

This review of The Book of Eli was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Written byAnonymous February 9, 2013
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

This Movie Should have been rated NC-17.

It's an R Rated Movie and I don't thing anyone 17 & Under shouldn't be seeing this movie. There is a Rape Scene in this movie. This Movie should have gotten NC-17.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byFamilyofSix June 19, 2010
AGE
17
QUALITY
 
The other reviews give a good description of the violence, language, etc in the movie. On a positive note, I thought the main character was a good role model by defending the Word. He was very violent, but always out of necessity. The bad language was never used by the main character, that I remember. Overall the plot and turns in the movie were pretty interesting. I was a bit disappointed at the end when the book was put among others; that reduced the signifiance of the book. One reviewer said they took their 15 year old to see this R-rated movie and ask them to cover their eyes...that is ridiculous...how do you know when bad scenes will appear? It should only be seen by people out of high school.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written byMr. Tights July 17, 2012
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Awesome!!!

If I was to rate this movie it would be: R For Some bloody violence and some strong language
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Adult Written byangrypanda90 August 14, 2010
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

Good for older teens.

This movie is a very good movie. Violent yes but not Over the top violent. Eli is a man who is following God's will for him. Yes he does fight a lot of people but those who say violence and Christianity shouldnt mix clearly havent read the book of Judges in the bible. Eli doesnt kill random people at will he defends himself. Its aso in a post apocalyptic world. SO you can bet most people's morals went down the drain.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models

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