Much like Jason Statham and Liam Neeson, when you see Denzel Washington‘s name attached to an action thriller, you pretty much know exactly what you’re going to get. Nine times out of ten, the big screen legend will play a law enforcement officer, government official or career criminal with a troubled past that’s lured into a high stakes job, case or revenge mission, and the results will be hugely watchable based on the actor’s magnetic presence and effortless charisma alone.
The formula has been successfully applied to Ricochet, Crimson Tide, Devil in a Blue Dress, Fallen, The Siege, The Bone Collector, Training Day, Out of Time, Man on Fire, The Manchurian Candidate, Inside Man, Deja Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123, Unstoppable, Safe House, 2 Guns, both Equalizer movies and even his most recent effort The Little Things, to give you some indication of how ubiquitous the Denzel Washington Action Thriller has become over the last three decades.
However, only once has the two-time Academy Award winner ventured into post-apocalyptic territory, and the end result was one of the most underrated starring vehicles of his career. The Book of Eli is a sun-bleached neo Western set in a wasteland where Washington’s title hero carries a book with the potential to save humanity, with Gary Oldman’s scenery chewing villain desperate to get his hands on it.
The action is slick, violent and gets straight to the point, while the narrative tackles some big ideas, even if not all of them land with the intended impact. As Looper reports, The Book of Eli is now streaming on HBO Max and surely finding a whole new audience, as Denzel Washington transplants his box office drawing power to the streaming wars with consummate ease.