Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.


    No Rating Available

Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

Eli's world is a dry and weary one. There's no water, and he walks through the ash of a jagged place, where men eat men and the sky's torn in two.

Godforsaken, many would call this dystopian earth. But God is not gone, nor forgotten. For Eli carries, along with his gloves and guns and cruel, broad blade, something special. Something sacred.

A book. The Book.

In the age gone by, Bibles were burned by the bushel. They caused the War that tore a hole through the sky, the people said. It's a book of evil, the people said. It must be destroyed—wiped from the face of the earth.

But they didn't burn them all. Eli found one—or it found him—and for the last 31 years he's carried the thing, protecting it by day, reading it by night. He carries it west, always west, where the sun comes down from heaven and seems to set upon the ground.

Eli's not the only one who knows the power of the Book. In the heart of this parched land, a man named Carnegie has built a fiefdom around a precious spring. He's a petty despot with a legion of heavies and a yen for power. And for years he's been looking for the Book—a tool, as he sees it, to unite the weak and feeble-minded, and make him their master.

"I grew up with it," Carnegie tells Eli, when he learns Eli is carrying the Book. "I know its power. And if you read it, then so do you."

Eli knows. He knows that Carnegie has killed, and will kill, to get his hands on it. But Eli also knows this: Carnegie's not getting the Book. Not while Eli still lives.

[Note: The following sections contain spoilers.]

Positive Elements

"It's one thing to do good," star Denzel Washington told Reuters. "But you must do good in the right way." And The Book of Eli makes viewers grapple with what that looks like:

In this bleak, post-apocalyptic world, there's little reward for goodness. Eli strides down dusty roads like the instrument of an angry god. He can and does rain down bloody justice on a wayward people.

Despite his obvious power to take both what he needs and wants, though, Eli often shows both restraint and grace to those he comes across. He barters for goods, paying the exorbitant prices asked. When a woman is sent to seduce Eli, he ignores her advances and instead asks her if she'd like to share his dinner. And he always, always warns assailants to back off.

Eli pursues what he believes to be his God-given quest with single-minded determination—in itself an admirable trait. Yet, when forced to make a brutal decision—whether to relinquish the Book or save the life of Solara, a girl who's fallen into his care—he chooses to save the latter, risking death for her sake.

He explains his decision to Solara later, admitting he didn't always behave so admirably: After 31 years reading the Bible, "I forgot to live by what I learned from it," he tells her. "Do for others more than you do for yourself. That's what I got out of it, anyway."

Other characters show flashes of virtue. Solara rescues Eli from certain death, and once the two of them reach sanctuary, Solara decides to go back to Carnegie's anarchistic town—bearing with her, presumably, God's good news. Solara's mother clearly loves her child and refuses to help Carnegie misuse the Bible.

Spiritual Content

The premise of Eli centers around the Bible—not just as a book or an object of immense cultural value, but as a source of power. There's a tacit understanding that this power can be abused (Carnegie's selfish desire for the book gives voice to Christianity's darker historical chapters), but we're told, through Eli, that the Bible is inherently a good thing. And as we watch him read it, ponder it and protect it, we better understand how precious its words are.

When Eli first meets Solara, nearly the first thing he does is teach her how to pray over a meal. It's this prayer—when Solara tries to repeat it with her mother over breakfast—that tips Carnegie off to the fact that Eli must be carrying the Book. He asks Eli to give it to him, telling Eli that its words are meant to be shared. With the Bible, Carnegie tells Eli, he can help bring light and hope to the people.

"I don't have the right words," he says, "but the Book does."

Carnegie, though, thinks of Scripture as a weapon—a cudgel to beat down the masses. Eli knows differently: We learn that a voice—a voice he takes for God's—led him to the Book and told him to take it west, and that he'd be protected along the way. And it does appear that the hand of God is on Eli: He gets out of unspeakably dangerous scrapes and when some of Carnegie's men shoot at him, the bullets miss—something that mystifies Carnegie's head henchman, Redridge.

"It's like he's protected somehow," Redridge tells Carnegie.

Carnegie doesn't believe it and, when he captures both Eli and Solara, he seems to prove his point.

"God is good, is He not?" Carnegie says, as Eli kneels in the dirt.

"All the time," Eli says.

"Not all the time," Carnegie answers, shooting Eli in the gut.

Carnegie takes the Bible back to town. But when he cracks open the clasp that holds it closed, he discovers that its written in Braille. Eli, who talks at one juncture about how he walks by faith, not by sight, is blind.

Eli survives the gunshot and makes his way west with Solara's help. And they find a pocket of civilization holed up in Alcatraz—an echo of the monasteries that outlived the Dark Ages. To the inhabitants there, Eli recites the Bible verse by verse, line by line, while someone transcribes it.

The metaphors here are many and they paint poignant pictures of how Eli's blindness changes his faith, how the pages of a Braille Scripture were useless to someone like Carnegie, how Eli hid the Word inside himself.

Of note: There's no indication that the folks in Alcatraz share Eli's faith, though they apparently honor the Bible as an important historical and literary work. When Eli's recitation is taken down and published, the finished copy is put on a shelf between the Jewish Torah and the Islamic Quran.

Sexual Content

Carnegie tries to force Solara to become, in essence, a prostitute, asking her to sleep with Eli as an enticement to get him to stay. Eli refuses Solara's offer, but does allow her to sleep in his room so she can report to Carnegie that she did as she was told. Another woman tries to seduce Eli by displaying her cleavage—again, without success.

Other women are also shown wearing revealing outfits. Carnegie makes a crass reference to female anatomy.

Violent Content

Life is not sacred and a quick death might be seen as a gift in Eli's harsh and bloodthirsty world. The overall tone of the film is far removed from the Sermon on the Mount. Rather, it recalls the Bible's bloodiest passages—where legions of soldiers massacred whole people groups, where kings and queens were left in the street to be eaten by dogs.

In the opening scene, we see Eli skewer a hairless cat with an arrow. The body of a dead man—a gaping bullet hole in his head—is seen nearby. It only gets worse from there: Eli's blade claims dozens of lives and limbs—its work often accompanied by sprays of blood. He cuts off a man's hand and slowly drives the knife deep into the man's gut. He shoots people, too, with pistols, shotguns and arrows. Blood gushes from broken noses, gaping wounds and gory stumps.

Eli watches from afar (along with the camera) as a handful of bikers shoot a man in the head, killing him. They also kill a woman, yanking her around as if to rape her first. (And when we see her later, dead, her breast is exposed.)

Solara is nearly raped. Eli spares her by shooting her assailants with arrows: One arrow—fired just as he unbuckles his pants—juts out of a man's crotch.

Cannibalism is clearly practiced by Eli's post-apocalyptic compatriots. He and Solara are once served such meat. And the couple that serves it is later brutally murdered. (We see the woman surrounded by a pool of gore and watch the man get riddled with bullets.)

Eli patches up his stomach bullet wound with duct tape. Corpses are seen everywhere—from skeletons left to rot in cars to a man who's hanged himself in a closet. (Eli takes his shoes.) Bombs go off. Cars crash. One bad guy is strangled.

Crude or Profane Language

More than a dozen f-words and half-a-dozen s-words. God's name is paired with "d‑‑n." "B‑‑ch," "b‑‑tard" and "h‑‑‑" are said.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Liquor flows at Carnegie's bar. But Eli skips the hard stuff and asks for water instead. "That's the good stuff," the barkeep says.

Other Negative Elements

Eli fibs on occasion—mainly to protect those around him. Body odor is a topic of conversation. Eli reaches into his pants to wash himself.


The Book of Eli is, perhaps, the most explicitly Christian film I've seen come out of the secular film industry since The Passion of the Christ. Indeed, it's something of a Sunday sermon wrapped in a Mad Max adventure.

The Bible—what it is and what it says—lies at the heart of this cinematic Book. Denzel Washington, a Christian, co-produced the film, and he reportedly spent a great deal of time massaging dialogue and tinkering with scenes—which may have allowed his own appreciation for faith to shine through.

But this is a bloody movie. And its explicit violence feels, often, unnecessary—even within the post-apocalyptic trope we're dealing with. Eli's not so much God's instrument as he is death's angel: For all his morality and reverence for Scripture, he grinds up his adversaries—God's handiwork, made in God's own image—with the ripe regret of a wood chipper.

Does the violence eradicate Eli's message? No.

Does the message redeem Eli's violence? No.

This, then, is a spiritual tale told through the prism of a dystopian Western; a religious story shellacked with gore.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Denzel Washington as Eli; Gary Oldman as Carnegie; Mila Kunis as Solara; Ray Stevenson as Redridge; Jennifer Beals as Claudia


The Hughes Brothers ( )


Warner Bros.



Record Label



In Theaters

January 15, 2010

On Video

June 15, 2010

Year Published



Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!