Cinema: Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter
‘…Honest Abe kicking ass – with an axe…’
With a title like ABRAHAM LINCOLN – VAMPIRE HUNTER, it’s pretty clear from the outset that Timur Bekmambetov‘s film is going to stretch the limits of imagination for the viewer. There are some who’d automatically dismiss the idea based simply on the title and, to be fair, it’s understandable. The very idea does leave itself open to be mocked. However, the film surprisingly works because of this – it absolutely does not take itself seriously in any shape or manner.
Benjamin Walker plays the titular character. Raised with the knowledge that vampires are real, having taken his own mother to pay a debt his family owed, he learns his trade from the charismatic Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper) whilst studying to become the politician he’s more openly known for. The vampires have, in this reality, infested every part of society – they’re shopkeepers, bank managers, plantation owners. Together, Lincoln and Sturges begin to track them down and defeat them in amazingly choreographed fight sequences. Parallel to this, Lincoln’s view on slavery and civil rights snaps into focus when he realises that the South, and by extension, vampires mean to enslave all of America. In terms of plot, it’s best not to focus in on the historical inaccuracies or the fact that the 16th President of the US is able to swing a silver-tipped axe and cut down trees.
Bekmambetov’s direction is breathless and exhilarating. Those who have seen his previous efforts, WANTED and NIGHT WATCH, will know his liberal use of slow-motion coupled with outlandish set-pieces. With ABRAHAM LINCOLN -VAMPIRE HUNTER, Bekmambetov’s delirious direction has gone into overdrive. Featuring fight scenes that take place in the middle of a horse stampede and on top of a train, the pace is breathless and almost exhausting to watch. It’s unfortunate that the film grinds to a halt in the middle and transitions to Lincoln as an elder statesman as it loses the reckless speed that makes the film so much fun. Walker’s portrayal is decent and his relationship with Dominic Cooper and, later, Anthony Mackie is believable. Likewise, Mary Elizabeth Winstead‘s performance is satisfactory – if a bit overcommitted and hammy. The real strength of the film lies, as you’d expect, in the action sequences.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN – VAMPIRE HUNTER is not for all tastes and cinemagoers. Some people will find the liberal use of history aggravating and insulting. The film never takes itself seriously – how could it? Thankfully, with a film as insane as this, the humour is kept to an appropriate minimum. There are no cheesy one-liners or comic relief moments. Although adapted from a best-selling novel of the same, it feels more like a comic-book movie. The issue of slavery and civil rights are only briefly mentioned and nothing is truly opined about the Civil War itself. This isn’t the film to making such statements or opinions. This is 100 minutes of insane action that features Honest Abe kicking ass. With an axe.
DROP-D RATING: 7 / 10