The Book of Eli

Denzel Washington, Mila Kunis, Gary Oldman | R |

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REVIEWED BY OLIVER JONES

DRAMA

Before the opening credits to this postapocalyptic redemption fable finish, Washington has already shot and killed a hairless cat that will serve as that night's supper with his bow and arrow. By the time this bleak film has wrapped, he has treated countless highwaymen, cannibals and other foul-smelling baddies no less lethally, all the while on some sort of divine mission that is—what else?—the Last Hope for Humanity. It's all quite heavy-handed and slow-moving—at times you feel like you've seen every step of Eli's 30-year journey west. Kunis helps lighten the load a bit as stepdaughter to Oldman's over-the-top desert despot, and the story is made moderately more interesting by a late plot twist. But in the end it's Washington, with his scorched voice and world-weary lope, that serves as the lone reason to go on this ponderous journey. His Eli is as convincing as the rest of the film is not.

>Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, 15, plays The Lovely Bones' tragic teen.

YOU WERE OSCAR-NOMINATED IN '08 FOR ATONEMENT. READY FOR A LIGHTER ROLE?

I am. I'm quite a bubbly person, so it'd be nice to bring that side of me out onscreen.

ANY IDEAS?

My friend said, "Promise if you ever get a part with Robert Pattinson, you'll take it." It'd be cool to be a vampire.

YOU'RE NOT MUCH LIKE THAT CREEPY GIRL IN ATONEMENT.

Sometimes people are surprised that I'm normal!

>CRAZY HEART

As a boozy country singer, Jeff Bridges is note-perfect in this moving character study, hitting more theaters this month.

UP IN THE AIR

George Clooney and this smart, witty, sexy film (also expanding) make the perfect date for a bleak January.

>Bradley Cooper and Liam Neeson head an explosive remake of the campy TV classic, due out June 11.

MEN OF ACTION

Cooper, Sharlto Copley (District 9), Neeson, and ex-UFC champ Quinton "Rampage" Jackson are a band of rogue Special Forces vigilantes (originally played by Dirk Benedict, George Peppard, Dwight Schultz and Mr. T, inset). "The scale of the film is mind-blowing," says Copley.

THE BUFF STUFF

As cocky Templeton "Faceman" Peck, Cooper shows off his bod too. "Bradley really went for it with the workout," says Copley. "I, on the other hand, got to eat whatever I wanted."

PRETTY DEADLY

Jessica Biel plays Lt. Sosa, a former paramour of Peck's who is in hot pursuit of the team. "Jessica surprised me," says Copley. "She is really, really talented when it comes to guns."

>• The actor, 47, plays a downer dad in the indie drama but finds joy at home with his three kids.

YOU PLAY A SINGER IN WONDERFUL WORLD. DO YOU SING AT HOME?

My son James [age 7] doesn't really like me to sing. He says, "You like those old- fashioned songs," because I sing show tunes. He does funny impressions of it.

HOW IS IT RAISING GIRLS?

With James I was always getting him something he could hit or stab. I know the twins [Marion and Tabitha, 6 months] are going to like dolls. I'll have to learn about stuff like shoes. I'll let their mom [Sarah Jessica Parker] do that.

ANY ACTING BUG IN JAMES?

I shudder to admit this, but I do see some of the Frankenstein creeping out.

>• This passable kids' action-comedy could be better if it accomplished the following key objectives ...

DON'T TRY SO HARD

With Hannah Montana's dad (Billy Ray Cyrus) cast as a CIA agent and tons of tweenspeak, it all plays like a grown-up desperate to seem cool.

PICK AN AUDIENCE

Teens may find it juvenile, but the fight scenes could be too much for the kiddos.

LET CHAN LOOSE

The closing outtakes are the highlight, thanks to Jackie Chan's undeniable charm.

>Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, 15, plays The Lovely Bones' tragic teen.

YOU WERE OSCAR-NOMINATED IN '08 FOR ATONEMENT. READY FOR A LIGHTER ROLE?

I am. I'm quite a bubbly person, so it'd be nice to bring that side of me out onscreen.

ANY IDEAS?

My friend said, "Promise if you ever get a part with Robert Pattinson, you'll take it." It'd be cool to be a vampire.

YOU'RE NOT MUCH LIKE THAT CREEPY GIRL IN ATONEMENT.

Sometimes people are surprised that I'm normal!

>CRAZY HEART

As a boozy country singer, Jeff Bridges is note-perfect in this moving character study, hitting more theaters this month.

UP IN THE AIR

George Clooney and this smart, witty, sexy film (also expanding) make the perfect date for a bleak January.

>Bradley Cooper and Liam Neeson head an explosive remake of the campy TV classic, due out June 11.

MEN OF ACTION

Cooper, Sharlto Copley (District 9), Neeson, and ex-UFC champ Quinton "Rampage" Jackson are a band of rogue Special Forces vigilantes (originally played by Dirk Benedict, George Peppard, Dwight Schultz and Mr. T, inset). "The scale of the film is mind-blowing," says Copley.

THE BUFF STUFF

As cocky Templeton "Faceman" Peck, Cooper shows off his bod too. "Bradley really went for it with the workout," says Copley. "I, on the other hand, got to eat whatever I wanted."

PRETTY DEADLY

Jessica Biel plays Lt. Sosa, a former paramour of Peck's who is in hot pursuit of the team. "Jessica surprised me," says Copley. "She is really, really talented when it comes to guns."

>• The actor, 47, plays a downer dad in the indie drama but finds joy at home with his three kids.

YOU PLAY A SINGER IN WONDERFUL WORLD. DO YOU SING AT HOME?

My son James [age 7] doesn't really like me to sing. He says, "You like those old- fashioned songs," because I sing show tunes. He does funny impressions of it.

HOW IS IT RAISING GIRLS?

With James I was always getting him something he could hit or stab. I know the twins [Marion and Tabitha, 6 months] are going to like dolls. I'll have to learn about stuff like shoes. I'll let their mom [Sarah Jessica Parker] do that.

ANY ACTING BUG IN JAMES?

I shudder to admit this, but I do see some of the Frankenstein creeping out.

>• This passable kids' action-comedy could be better if it accomplished the following key objectives ...

DON'T TRY SO HARD

With Hannah Montana's dad (Billy Ray Cyrus) cast as a CIA agent and tons of tweenspeak, it all plays like a grown-up desperate to seem cool.

PICK AN AUDIENCE

Teens may find it juvenile, but the fight scenes could be too much for the kiddos.

LET CHAN LOOSE

The closing outtakes are the highlight, thanks to Jackie Chan's undeniable charm.