Hollywood Product: The Book of Eli (1)

GENRE: End-of-days allegory, sans Viggo Mortensen

THE PITCH: In a post-literate American wasteland, a savage town’s vicious leader named Carnegie (Gary Oldman, channeling the likes of Bruce Dern and Dean Stockwell) pursues drifter Eli (reliably stalwart Denzel Washington) for his mysterious book. It’s stylishly directed by the Hughes brothers, so think Menace II Post-Apocalyptic Society.

MONEY SHOTS: Eli swiftly dispatches a band of hijackers while silhouetted in a tunnel. Eli blasts Carnegie’s henchman during a Main Street shoot-out worthy of John Wayne. Young hottie Solara (Mila Kunis) tosses an explosive to fend off bad guys on wheels. The last act features a trashed national monument, in timeless end-of-the-world movie tradition.

BEST LINE: Eli makes a statement on faith and Solara asks, “Is that from the book.” “No,” he replies, “It’s Johnny Cash, Life From Folsom Prison.”

LEAST CREATIVE LINE: “I don’t want any trouble,” says Eli, which is what the strong, silent hero-types always say right before they start kicking ass. Speaking of which …

BODY COUNT: Almost 30, including multiple decapitations, a severed hand and arrows through the throat and crotch. Plus, a bird and one of those hairless Mr. Bigglesworth cats become supper.

CAMEOS: The suddenly ubiquitous Tom Waits does a nice job with a tiny role as a fix-it guy. Jennifer “Flashdance” Beals plays Carnegie’s blind mistress. A deceptively nice old couple named George and Martha are played by Michael Gambon and Frances de la Tour (the pairing of which suggests that Dumbledore and Madame Maxime became an item).

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(Photo Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)