"The Book of Eli" Movie Synopsis

by David Harris

"The Book of Eli" is a 2010 post-apocalyptic action film starring Denzel Washington as a violent drifter. It also stars Mila Kunis, Gary Oldman, Jennifer Beals and Tom Waits. The movie was directed by the Hughes Brothers ("Menace II to Society"), the duo's first film since 2001's "From Hell."

End of the World

The year is 2043, and Eli (Washington) is a lone traveler, heading for the West Coast on foot. Hunting cats to survive, Eli also must dispatch roving bands of marauders with his amazing fighting skills. Wandering into a town, Eli discovers that it's run by Carnegie (Oldman), a collector on the lookout for very special book. Carnegie offers Eli a place to rest and then dispatches Solara, the daughter of his mistress, to seduce Eli and see if he is carrying any books.

A Good Book

Despite Carnegie's attempts to kill them, both Eli and Solara escape and continue heading west. Eli claims he is carrying one of the final copies of the Bible and that he must get it to a safe place, under the direction of a voice he hears in his head. Along the way, Solara and Eli are challenged by other foes, such as a couple of cannibals.


Eventually, Carnegie's forces catch up, shoot Eli and take the Bible. Solara escapes from Carnegie and finds Eli, who is still alive. Together, the two of them make it to San Francisco and then out to Alcatraz. Eli claims he has a copy of the King James Bible and they are admitted. There, Eli meets Lombardi (Malcolm McDowell) and begins to recite the Bible from memory. Back in the town, Carnegie opens the book and realizes it is written in Braille. Back in Alcatraz, a close-up on Eli reveals he is blind. He dies after he finishes reciting the Bible to Lombardi.


"The Book of Eli" was released in mid-January 2010, a dead zone for most movies. It went on to gross $94 million, according to Box Office Mojo. On the critical end, "The Book of Eli" received very mixed reviews. Critics felt the film was extremely uneven but some of the action sequences were engaging. Critic A.O. Scott of At the Movies bemoaned that the plot twist of Eli's blindness was "beyond absurd."

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