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The Book of Eli Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Illiteracy encouraged. Read full review


Jen Yamato Profile

Denzel goes not-so-Mad Max in this closet Christian flick. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 25

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    A ponderous dystopian bummer that might be described as "The Road Warrior" without car chases, or "The Road" without humanity.

    Read Full Review

  • 38

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    A didactic and humorless Western, Eli is too laborious for an action film and too brutal to be an inspirational tale.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    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.

    Read Full Review

  • 60

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    The Hughes Brothers' measured, well-paced direction complements the comic-book simplicity of this narrative.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    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.

    Read Full Review

  • See all The Book of Eli reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 17 & under

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.

  • 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?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: One possible interpretation of the movie is that it has a bone to pick with organized religion, instead celebrating individual spirituality. The villain wants to obtain the last existing Bible and use it for power and control over the "weak and desperate," while the hero's goal is to protect the book and deliver it to a safe place. He reads it regularly, but given his violent nature and loner status, it's not very clear that he's learned anything from it.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Eli is violent, stubborn, and single-minded, but he does ultimately learn the value of trust and persistence. Occasionally he also shows honor (for example, by refusing to drink alcohol or take advantage of Solora sexually).

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Extreme violence, generally of a comic book nature. Eli wields a bow and arrow and shoots both animals and people (sometimes in some very uncomfortable body parts). He also carries an enormous knife, with which he chops off hands, arms and heads. Lots of hand-to-hand combat as Eli fights off crowds of attackers; plenty of gunfights (and hand grenades) as well. The movie shows the impact of the bullets and the arrows -- including those shot at a bird and a cat -- as well as plenty of blood. Viewers see dead (and sometimes decomposing) bodies, and there's a suggestion of cannibalism. Rape and attempted rape are also suggested (sounds of ripping clothes, women's screams) both on-screen and off, in chaotic crowd scenes and, notably, in the case of one important character.

  • sex false3

    Sex: The future world presented in the movie has the equivalent of prostitutes, though they're only mentioned and rarely seen. A woman tries to seduce Eli by the side of the road by exposing her cleavage (no nudity). Later, Solara is sent to Eli's room while wearing a skimpy, cleavage-revealing dress and ordered to provide him sexual favors (though her orders are more suggested than actually spoken aloud). But Eli refuses to take advantage of her.

  • language false4

    Language: Several uses of "f--k" and "s--t." "P---y," "hell," and "bitch" are also heard. For the record, Eli himself doesn't use foul language.

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Some brands survive the apocalypse intact -- Eli cleans himself with (and later trades) little individually wrapped handi-wipes from KFC, and Carnegie uses a bullhorn with "Motorola" clearly marked on the side. Partial sign for Puma shoes.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some background characters drink in a bar, become surly, and assault Eli.