The Book of Eli
This one... hmm... good story concept, good to great acting. Shot in subdued sepias (not sure, I'm a little colorblind), the film is visually stunning with some honest efforts to envision post-apoc conditions. Many specific scenes linger in my memory, which alone pay the film's way.
Details are often implausible. Mad Max/Waterworld, fuel driven bad guys (though much better 'villain'). Shaking hands betray cannibal diet??? C'mon. Academic enclave guarded by thugs? Hmm. It feels like the usual Hollywood fate of a basically good film that the producer's nephew got to weigh in on.
Notably for this forum, there is a depiction of a center for gather and preserving Knowledge toward eventual reboot. Unfortunately, we don't see much of this, nor how it maintains itself. But, hey.
There is a potentially mystical aspect to the plot which is kept firmly in check and never runs away with the story. Just right to leave one with a pleasant reverie on the nature and extent of spiritual intervention in our affairs.
Denzel Washington is always a treat. He plays a man driven by God(?) on a mission to protect and deliver something in his possession. Clues to that something, and why it is valuable, fall into place as the film progresses. While it's somewhat obvious, it's a well paced, good ride. The related, double twists make you want to see it a second time.
But Gary Oldman (the 'bad guy') is, as always, the one to watch. He is the very picture of the intelligent, thoughtful thug who might well become the second-generation, local autocrat with ambition he portrays.
Jennifer Beals and Mila Kunis play Mother and Daughter, respectively. They are both strong women roles in their way. Beals performance I found especially engaging.
Mother - who has bartered much of her freedom for her daughter's sake - strikes me as a very plausible character and post-apoc situation. Realistically portraying many who must come to terms in an unequal relationship under threat of violence. Her situation is given more attention and integrity than is usual in most movies - far from being a mere backdrop on which the villian's villiany is painted in contrasting, primary colors.
Daughter makes her own hero's journey from not-quite-clear-what to armed-and-dangerous wanderer. Acting is okay, hampered by a script which is implausible for her character development. The transition comes late and too abrupt from young, impulsive and petulant to seasoned and trained. Still, she is determined and displays plausible, decisive ingenuity, with only a parting glimpse of the future bad-ass her limited experiences have somehow catalyzed. She's the sequel hook, if any.
All in all, this has been faint praise for a better than usual good ride.