Box art for The Book of Eli

The Book of Eli

action & adventure, drama, westerns

A lone warrior (Denzel Washington) wanders the post-apocalyptic desert that was once America, battling lawlessness to realize his hope of a better future.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 17
2 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
4 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5
3 out of 5
4 out of 5

Future-set action epic is heavy on comic book violence.

what 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.

what 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 reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 29
    see all The Book of Eli reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: I'm not going to give it away, but there's a final plot twist in this movie that is beyond absurd.

- A.O. Scott, At the Movies, Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rotten: Washington is always watchable and will hold your gaze during a highly ambitious but ultimately wonky attempt to inject spiritual depth into the blockbuster flock.

- Ben McEachen, Sunday Times (Australia), Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rotten: Poetic psalms uttered amid stylized violence are disconcerting. Religion and bloodshed, though linked through much of history, make queasy entertainment partners.

- Claudia Puig, USA Today, Thursday, January 14, 2010

Audience Reviews

3 stars

A post apocalyptic hell with plenty of faith thrown in. Good action sequences and the books twist at the end made me smile.

- jmanard52, Friday, July 16, 2010

4 stars

I don't know what it is, but post-apocalyptic films seem to be all the rage lately. There have been so many within the past twenty years that it's nuts. I do like these types of films though, mostly because it gives people a chance to get creative with the set design and art direction.The look and feel are crucial to these films. Story and world building are important, sure, but the real hook lies within the realms of sound and vision. While not great, this is a good film, both in its own right, and as part of the aforeentioned subgenre. It's also a western, which is always cool. Denzel has played all types of characters, mostly heores (and at least one villain), but this is the first time I can recall him playing an anti-hero. He's good at it. He's like a black version of many of Eastwood's characters. I won't get into too many specifics since I don't want to spoil anything, but let's just say that this film is filled with tons of symbolism and meaningful themes and imagery. Character names are not coincidental, and are reflective of who they are or what they want or represent. Besides Denzel, other people in the cast are good ,too. Oldman is a pro at hamming it up as villains, and proves that once again here. Mila Kunis is actually not too bad here. She's not great, but she works out just fine. I'd actually like to see a sequel or spin off featuring her charactr-I think that would be awesome. Ray Stevenson is good as the main henchmen, and, despite their limited screen time, Waits, Gambon, and Macdowell all turn in nice perforances fitting the strangeness of the world of the film. The camerawork is great. I especially liked the strongly executed long take during the shoot out at the farmhouse. This is only the second film by the Hughes Brothers that I have seen, but for me, they haven't made a bad film yet. Whether or not you like or agree with the third act plot revelation is besides the point. The film is made in such a way to where it all mostly holds up quite well. You won't really be able to deny that this film is ripe for discussion, even if you dislike it or have problems with it. Give it a shot.

- cosmo313, Wednesday, October 27, 2010

4 stars

A very slick and stylish post-apocalyptic western set in a world where basic needs are scarce (such as water, etc). Denzel plays Eli, a man who is destined to travel west with what appears to be the last copy of the bible and must hold onto it at all costs. Gritty, violent, stylish, well-acted...all these terms can describe this film. The only things i didn't like about this film were that Denzel can't die or even get majorly hurt and Mila Kunis, who is an average actress at best. Even worse is that they set this up for maybe some kind of sequel or plotline where she keeps going where Denzel left off...roaming the wastelands. That's a sequel I would avoid...unless Gary Oldman does that one, too.

- middleeasternfilms, Monday, October 18, 2010