Metascore
53

Mixed or average reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 33
  2. Negative: 4 out of 33
  1. Its over-the-top violence is cartoonish at times, menacing at others - which is a good thing. And truly, if one must wander a barren, post-apocalyptic landscape with somebody, who better to wander with than Denzel Washington?
  2. 67
    Much has been made of the film's ending, vis-à-vis whether or not it's a pro- or anti-organized religion commentary of some sort. The Hughes Brothers, for two, say they just wanted to make a kickass piece of contemporary entertainment, and I, for one, believe them.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    50
    The Book of Eli is “The Road’’ with twice the plot, four times the ammunition, and half the brains; it’ll probably make 10 times the money.
  4. The Book of Eli takes the violent, gritty feel of a spaghetti western, marries it with elements of "The Road," places it in the future and gives it a spiritual twist.
  5. Reviewed by: Cliff Doerksen
    70
    The sepia-toned palette gets a little wearying, but the dialogue is hilarious, the violence is crunchy, and cameos by Tom Waits and topflight Brit character actor Michael Gambon are worth the ticket price alone.
  6. 75
    The film looks and feels good, and Washington's performance is the more uncanny the more we think back over it. The ending is "flawed," as we critics like to say, but it's so magnificently, shamelessly, implausibly flawed that (a) it breaks apart from the movie and has a life of its own, or (b) at least it avoids being predictable.
  7. The Book of Eli works, even if the preservation of Christianity isn’t high on your personal post-apocalypse bucket list. Establishing its storytelling rules clearly and well, the film simply is better, and better-acted, than the average end-of-the-world fairy tale.
  8. Washington doesn’t look as if he’s having much fun, and who can blame him? Perhaps he agrees with me: Apocalypse movies, like apocalypse heroes, need some laughs, too.
  9. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    40
    Mad Max 2 with Thought for the Day thrown in. There’s some ace post-holocaust action, but you can’t help feel you were invited to a party with fizzy pop and cream cake and got suckered into a sermon instead.
  10. A ponderous dystopian bummer that might be described as "The Road Warrior" without car chases, or "The Road" without humanity.
  11. 25
    There is also a last-minute "Sixth Sense" twist, although it definitely won't make you sit through the movie again to see if the filmmakers cheated.
  12. Yet it all comes down to one simplistic idea, and the result feels like a one-film evangelical movement.
  13. 63
    The film’s cool-looking desaturated look (not unlike “The Road”), plentiful action and Washington’s charismatic gravitas as the taciturn hero make it relatively easy to overlook the pretensions and implausibilities in the script.
  14. 50
    Whatever its virtues, Eli is a movie that can’t help but suffer in comparison to the much-delayed and much better "Road."
  15. Though not as lyrical as "The Road," which benefits from both its visual artistry and its humanist perspective, The Book of Eli employs the genre conventions of the western to make mythic its principal character.
  16. This makes "Eli" sort of wonderfully silly toward the end, as if the Hughes brothers set out to make the first-ever faith-based "Mad Max" movie.
  17. Reviewed by: Michael Mariani
    50
    Starts out strong and boasts a convincing picture of the post-war world as an anarchic desert. But it comes to ditch its fun stylization for vague themes of religiosity and morality, leaving you with a disappointingly muddled movie.
  18. 63
    The problem with The Book of Eli is that the narrative isn't a match for its sentiments. The script feels like it's an iteration or two short of a final draft.
  19. 63
    The Book of Eli isn't as exciting or funny or inspiring as it wants and needs to be, and its preachy ending is an ordeal. But Washington, a movie star who can act, is one cool dude who is worth following anywhere.
  20. 60
    Somewhat entertaining, in its own little mud-brown way.
  21. A dynamic story, sprinkled with some interesting ideas about the preciousness of culture and how societies might rebuild themselves.
  22. Washington is surprisingly persuasive as a world-weary blade-wielder, and Oldman makes the most of a not particularly interesting villain. But the film's breakout star may be Kunis, who brings to Solara a blend of sassiness and sexiness that's reminiscent of Michelle Pfeiffer.
  23. 75
    Its hero may be on a mission from above, but in a refreshing twist, the fate of mankind rests with the literate.
  24. So we're back on "The Road ," but this time Eli's coming – better hide your heart and, while you're at it, put your brain on hold, the easier to enjoy the action-filled sermon to come.
  25. The Hughes Brothers' measured, well-paced direction complements the comic-book simplicity of this narrative.
  26. The movie keeps you watching and generally engaged.
  27. 20
    The Book of Eli combines the maximum in hollow piety with remorseless violence. [18 Jan. 2010, p.82]
  28. For a few brief moments, the film becomes something close to Greek mythology, as opposed to graphic-novel imitator. What a feeling!
  29. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    38
    A didactic and humorless Western, Eli is too laborious for an action film and too brutal to be an inspirational tale.
  30. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    50
    Some mordant comic touches would have been welcome throughout the picture, which has a somber tone that suffers a bit from lack of modulation and nuance.
  31. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    50
    The Book of Eli's plastic parable isn't much more advanced than "Insane Clown Posse" theology.
  32. The story requires a greater leap of faith than I was willing or able to muster, since Eli is also a saintly pilgrim on a God-given mission to save a ruined world.
  33. A hyper-violent, post-apocalyptic Western in the mold of "Mad Max" that can't make up its mind whether it wants to be corny or misanthropic.
User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 345 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 22 out of 136
  1. Nov 9, 2011
    5
    The Hughes Brothers' "The Book of Eli" is a entertaining movie with a solid grim tone and quick, fast paced action. However, it could have done so much more than consistently managing it's apocalyptic mood... Full Review »
  2. Feb 23, 2013
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Decent post-apocalyptic movie. Washington's acting is good, Gary Oldman is so-so as villain (I consider him a real chameleon actor, who can play brilliant villains, but here the character He portrays is somewhat weak). The twist of the movie is totally unrealistic (Yeah I get it, but anyway it is very unrealistic). Overall it worth a look, but that all. Ps: I do not like how American centric the movie was. I am sure there are a lot more Bibles in Europe, that survived, so Eli hardly saved the last remaining one (It might be the last one there, but the world is a lot bigger place than that.), Full Review »
  3. May 17, 2012
    0
    This movie is like Mad Max, without cars or irony or any meaning, everything is replaced by christian propaganda. In a world starved and lacking fuel people wouldn't bother very much about chasing a fanatical blind fencer but they would try to find a way to recover their technological knowledge. Everything else is better: The road, Mad Max, Escape from New York, even Red Dawn...
    If you want a post apocalyptic fiction about the importance of religion for the recovery of civilization you could read "A canticle for Leibovitz" by Walter M. Miller jr.
    Full Review »