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Movie Review: Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter

June 29, 2012


Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. — Courtesy Photo

Abraham Lincoln. Vampire Hunter … the title says it all, Nuff said.

At about the 40 minute mark, there’s one of those chaos-driven action scenes where our young protagonist, Abraham Lincoln,  battles a vampire within a horse-run stampede. In its hard to follow storm of dust and running hooves, the vampire – who shares a vendetta against Lincoln–tackles a running horse and flings him across the force of the herd, right at Lincoln, who catches it, flings himself over its back and rides it back. Our man, very much like Wesley Snipes’ Blade, has a (literal) axe to grind.

If this preposterous insult to the senses isn’t reason enough to go watch a better movie, then of course,this movie — like its soul-brethren Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance and Jonah Hex — is for you. Complete with whip-lashing slow-motion camera-work, and remorseless axe-flinging.

Benjamin Walker (X-Men: First Class’s Beast and the young Kinsey) is a natural as Abraham Lincoln, a bright, near-future American President, whose mother is supped by the above mentioned vampire (Marton Csokas). We see him, a young boy turned man, trained to be a hunter of the living dead by Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), a secluded benefactor with a predictable back-story – his wife was killed by the plot’s leading undead, Adam (Rufus Sewell).

As the ludicrously drafted screenplay (written by Seth Grahame-Smith, based on his own novel), moves forward we learn that Lincoln, an axeman by profession, conquered this skill by lopping down trees in three strokes by the “real power” of “truth”. He meets and falls in love with Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) a genuine young woman who humours his story about vampire killing, as any rational human would — with complete impartiality.

Years later — after a couple of hammered, cliché chauffeured fight sequences — Lincoln decides to fight for a better cause. Vampire infestation, commonsensically, is an inconsequential hitch than the impeding American Civil War. And so, his axe, coated in silver, is safe-kept as a past memento. A cut later, we see Lincoln in his famous half-beard, as the next American president. By now, he has the looks of a younger Liam Neeson (if anything, the film’s make-up design is one of its solitary points of redemption), who returns to lopping off Vampire heads. The undead are now (indiscriminately), apart of Southern Confederates.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a sad, disingenuous, product of unapologetic film-making, manufactured by Timur Bekmambetov  in a factory of faux and shabby looking visual effects and production design.

While Dominic Cooper, Benjamin Walker, Anthony Mackie (playing William H. Johnson, the real Lincoln’s personal valet) and Mary Elizabeth-Winsteaddeliver earnest performances, the narrative’s inadequate, no-frills pacing and the film’s tarnished finishing slays something more than the undead, or a large part of American history. It slays you.