That Denzel Washington is one of the finest actors of his generation doesn’t surprise me as much as the fact that it took The Book of Eli for me to truly be aware of his prowess.
Consider the following snippet of dialogue.
Shopkeeper: Do you have any toys?
Eli (Denzel Washington): No, I don’t play.
The line is ridiculous, occurring in the middle of an apocalyptic wasteland, yet the way Washington delivers those three words is wonderful. He is giving the shopkeeper an honest response, while at the same time ruing the fact that he does not play with any toys, while at the same time pondering what else he has to offer that might take the place of toys. In a mere 4 words Denzel Washington is able to offer more information about Eli’s character than 20 minutes of backstory would.