The Hughes Bros are back with a promising, post-apocalyptic movie called Book of Eli. At Comic-Con, we saw some footage of Denzel Washington as hero-with-a-past Eli, kicking major ass and fighting Gary Oldman.
The Hughes Bros previously directed Menace II Society and From Hell, among other projects. Albert Hughes said the movie takes place 30 years in the future after a series of wars have left the planet environmentally devastated. The human population has gotten incredibly small, and they live Mad Max style in broken down cities that seem to have partly reverted to an almost medieval style of life.
Visually, the movie looks something like The Matrix crossed with Road Warrior, with silvered, smoky air and stylized fights. In a discussion at Comic-Con after the clips aired, Washington said that he'd done almost all the fight scenes in the movie himself, after training with two people who had worked with Bruce Lee. In addition we saw the "motion graphic novel preview" of the movie. It was stark and intense, done entirely in stark animation. We see Eli beaten by his drunk dad, and then watch as Eli's parents give their money to a televangelist's ministry. Eli eventually steals and burns his parents' checks to the ministry, after waiting until the two of them are asleep with drinks in hand. Then he kills his parents in a blaze of fire. "And I've been wandering ever since," he says. This is backstory for his character that helps us understand his badassery in the movie.
Allen Hughes said he and his brother were drawn to the project because it was "uniquely different." He added:
[The story] reminded us of what we liked about the original Planet of the Apes. It's an adventure-journey with something to say about society.
Gary Oldman plays Eli's nemesis, who wants a rare book that Eli carries. Oldman elaborated:
[It's] An old important book. I want this because it's a means to absolute rule and power for me. With this book I can guide, lead and control, and manipulate.
After seeing the motion graphic novel backstory of Eli's life, I couldn't help but wonder if the book is the Bible.
The movie looked very promising - a nice antidote to the usual post-apocalyptic fare. And with heavy hitters like Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman tearing it up on screen, it's sure to be intense.