An apocalyptic world.
Marauding gangs looting, raping and pillaging.
A wanderer desperately trying to reach a hoped for nirvana.
No food or water.
There is much in "The Book of Eli" that will be familiar to anyone who has seen "The Road" but where it differs is in the concept of hope and how that manifests itself.
In "The Road" hope is found within ourselves and in the choices we make. Here in the "Book of Eli" hope can only be found from outside of ourselves; specifically from God and Gods word. This vision of a world following a devastating incident (in this case a nuclear war) decides that while there may be goodness without the influence of Christianity it is only with it that a new and better world can be created.
I'm not sure how comfortable I was with that idea. This isn't a blog for debating matters spiritual however and so I'll focus on the film itself.
"Eli" (Denzel Washington) has been walking (very purposefully) across America for thirty years, heading West in search of...well, we don't know initially. In his possession he carries a book, a book that is very important. We know it's important because as soon as the villainous Gary Oldman appears he is prepared to sacrifice the lives of a lot of his men in order to gain possession of the book.
It's not possible to say too much more about the plot without giving away the twist in the tale (actually there are two twists and, to be fair, I only guessed one of them) but what I can say is that Denzel Washington is as watchable as ever, Gary Oldman hams it up as only Gary Oldman can and the supporting cast are all...fine.
There are some fine flourishes here from directors the Hughes Brothers...at times the film resembles "Sin City" with a certain comic book feel. The action sequences, although ridiculous, are energetic and the cinematography is, at times, very beautiful. Like another Hughes Brother film, "From Hell", this never quite fits together as a convincing whole and instead it presents you with one or two memorable moments as well as a nagging sense that something is missing.