Has Denzel Washington ever disappointed? After looking through his filmography on IMDB, it is obvious that not all his movies were raving successes (The Bone Collector or Virtuosity, anyone?) but it seems that Denzel almost always manages to rise above the material and deliver strong, subtle performances that make him one of the strongest actors of this generation. When he was finally awarded the Oscar for his performance in Training Day, I felt relieved that the man can at least retire with one golden statue in his inventory.
Now this film is not one I expected to like one little bit. I’ll be quite honest with you. If this film had anyone else instead of Denzel in the title role, I probably wouldn’t have even given it a second glance. It doesn’t hurt to have a terrific actor cast as the villain either and that’s where Gary Oldman comes in.
Gary is another actor who seems to rise above whatever he has to do but unlike Denzel, you’re never really watching “Gary Oldman” per se, but rather whatever character he’s portraying as he often immerses himself deep into the roles. In this film, for instance, I never would have know it was Oldman if I had no clue that he was in the film to begin with and that he played the villain. More importantly than the two great leads, was the film any good?
Well, here’s the plot: A man named Eli (Washington) travels across a post-apocalyptic world carrying a book with him that a particularly nasty individual named Carnegie (Oldman) wants to get his hands on for some reason or another.
At the risk of sounding vague, I don’t want to give too much away as I think some of the surprises will be more fun if I don’t ruin anything for you here. Going into this film with barely any knowledge of it outside of the actors and the post-apocalyptic setting, that might have helped me enjoy it more. With no pre-conceived notions and low expectations, I walked out of the theatre with a general feeling of satisfaction.
For one, the CGI in this film is amazing and at times, stunningly beautiful. At least I’m assuming that it is CGI that makes some of the backgrounds look as gorgeous as they do in different parts of the film. Related to that, the fight scenes are well-choreographed and it’s about time that I can see everyone that’s fighting instead of having to guess who’s throwing what punch in movies like the Bourne trilogy (which I still love, nonetheless). Keep a special look out for a particularly great scene featuring Eli slicing and dicing several hijackers done completely in silhouette.
The minor quibbles I have with the film comes with the writing. Overall, the story was fairly straight-forward and the dialogue was adequate for the most part but there were a few times here and there when I was reminded of the dialogue in Legion (not that I’m saying it’s anywhere near as bad as that movie!). Mila Kunis also shows up in a bit role and while she was decent, she didn’t really pull out any major acting chops and blow me away or anything. But, damn, she is fine.
So while this didn’t end up being my favourite Denzel Washington flick, it was very watchable and provided for some good entertainment for the most part, but don’t expect life-changing dialogue or amazing religious analogies or anything.
Just curious: What was your favourite Denzel Washington performance (not necessarily best movie)?