If we've learned anything from the Post-Apocalyptic Adventure genre -- and if we haven't learned anything, then what's the point? -- it's that no matter how toxic the air after war/disease/robot uprising destroys society as we know it, no matter how precious water and canned lima beans become, and no matter how difficult it is to find attractive footwear, humankind will still have access to ample amounts of gasoline to fuel their armored SUV deathmobiles. Oh, and there'll always be plenty of ammo. Which is important, because after the apocalypse, there'll be lots of gun battles with poorly dressed, giggling cannibals.
Such has been the law of such films since Mel Gibson chowed down on dog food in The Road Warrior, and the watchable, solidly entertaining The Book of Eli doesn't do much to alter the standard formula. Coming as it does just a few months after the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's grim novel The Road, it feels rather like the elevator-music version of The Road's soul-crushing, heavy metal rock anthem -- the notes are all the same, but The Book of Eli doesn't make your head hurt.
As Eli, our lone antihero walking this desolate wasteland, Denzel Washington is tough, dignified, and impenetrable. He's headed west on a mission, and he carries a large, leather-bound book from which he reads nightly after spending his days scrounging for supplies and fending off rogue thugs. Elsewhere, in a Deadwood-style outpost of a town, a teeth-gnashing tinhorn dictator named Carnegie (Gary Oldman) is desperate to get his hands on ... you guessed it, a very special book. It's something of a spoiler to tell you exactly what book it is, but if you don't figure it out in the first half hour, you're beyond hope.