The Book of Eli is a 2010 American post-apocalyptic action film directed by the Hughes brothers, written by Gary Whitta, and starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson and Jennifer Beals.
The story revolves around Eli, a nomad in a post-apocalyptic world, who is told by a voice to deliver his copy of a mysterious book to a safe location on the West Coast of the United States. The history of the post-war world is explained along the way as is the importance of Eli's task. Filming began in February 2009 and took place in New Mexico.
The film was released for theaters in January 2010. Alcon Entertainment financed and co-produced the film with Silver Pictures, while it was distributed by Warner Bros. in the US, and international sales handled by Summit Entertainment.
Thirty years after a nuclear apocalypse, Eli (Washington) travels on foot toward the west coast of the United States. Searching for a source of water, he arrives in a ramshackle town built and overseen by Carnegie (Oldman), who dreams of building more towns and controlling the people by using the power of a certain book. His henchmen scour the desolate landscape daily in search of it, but to no avail.
In the local town bar, Eli is set upon by a gang of bikers and he kills them all. Realizing Eli is a literate man like himself, Carnegie asks Eli to stay, although it is made clear the offer is non-negotiable. After Carnegie's blind concubine Claudia (Beals) gives Eli some food and water, Carnegie asks Claudia's daughter Solara (Kunis) to seduce Eli. Eli turns her down, but she discovers he has a book in his possession. Eli refuses to tell her about the book, but offers to share his food with her. Before they eat, though, he has her pray with him. The following day, Solara prays with her mother. Carnegie overhears them and realizes Solara's words were likely from the contents of the book he has been seeking, and so forces her to tell him Eli was reading a book; she says she does not know what kind, but forms a cross with her two index fingers. Carnegie realizes Eli has a copy of the Bible, the book he has been seeking. Eli sneaks out of his room and goes to the store across the street, where he had earlier asked the Engineer (Tom Waits) to recharge a battery which he uses to play his portable music player.
Carnegie attempts to stop Eli by having all his henchmen shoot at him, but the bullets seemingly just graze him, as if he is being protected. Eli shoots most of Carnegie's henchmen and wounds Carnegie in the leg. After Eli leaves, Solara follows him and leads him to the source of the town's water supply, hoping she can accompany him on his travels. Eli traps her inside and continues on alone. Solara escapes and soon finds herself ambushed by two bandits who attempt to rape her, but Eli appears and kills them.
As they continue on, Eli explains to Solara the nature of his journey. According to Eli, his book is the last remaining copy of the Bible, as all other copies were destroyed following the nuclear war. He says he was led to the book by a voice in his head, which then directed him to travel westward to a place where it would be safe. The voice assured him that he would be protected on his journey. Thus, for the last thirty years he has traveled west, guided by his faith.
Eventually, Eli and Solara arrive at a strange house. They stop to investigate and quickly fall through a trap door. The residents, Martha (Frances de la Tour) and George (Michael Gambon), invite them in for tea; however, the travelers are soon found by Carnegie. Eli, Solara, Martha, and George hole up inside the house. A shootout ensues, leading to the deaths of some of Carnegie's men, as well as George and Martha. Eli and Solara are captured. Carnegie threatens to kill Solara, which prompts Eli to hand over the Bible. Carnegie shoots him, and leaves him for dead.
While in transit, Solara escapes and drives back to help Eli. Rather than chase her, Carnegie chooses to return to the town with the Bible, since his vehicle is running out of fuel. Solara picks Eli up and they continue west until they reach the Golden Gate Bridge. They then row to Alcatraz, where they find a group of survivors. Eli tells the guards that he has a copy of the King James version of the Bible, and they are allowed in. Once inside, they are introduced to Lombardi (Malcolm McDowell), the curator. Eli, who is revealed to be blind, begins to dictate the Bible from memory.
Meanwhile, back in the town, Carnegie manages to open the locked Bible with the help of his Engineer, but he is horrified to discover that it is a Braille copy. He is unable to persuade Claudia to read it for him. Carnegie's leg wound has become septic, and he realizes he will die without making use of the Bible. Claudia laughs because Carnegie lost too many men chasing Eli and the book. Without enough manpower to keep order, the people of his town take control. Eli finishes dictating the Bible after being shaved and cleaned, and dies, presumably from his wounds, shortly thereafter. The printing press at Alcatraz begins printing the new King James Bible, after which Lombardi places a copy on the bookshelf between copies of the Torah and Qur'an. Solara is offered sanctuary in Alcatraz, but she instead chooses to head back home.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Denzel Washington ... Eli
Gary Oldman ... Carnegie
Mila Kunis ... Solara
Ray Stevenson ... Redridge
Jennifer Beals ... Claudia
Evan Jones ... Martz
Joe Pingue ... Hoyt
Frances de la Tour ... Martha
Michael Gambon ... George
Tom Waits ... Engineer
Chris Browning ... Hijack Leader
Richard Cetrone ... Hijacker
Lateef Crowder ... Hijacker / Construction Thug
Keith Davis ... Hijacker
Don Tai ... Hijacker (as Don Theerathada)
Directed by The Hughes brothers
Produced by Joel Silver
Written by Gary Whitta