Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter: Movie Review

Director: Timur Bekmambetov

Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Dominic Cooper , Alan Tudyk, Rufus Sewell, Benjamin Walker, Anthony Mackie, Robin McLeavy, Jimmi Simpson, Edrick Browne, Jaqueline Fleming, Laura Cayouette, Erin Wasson, John Rothman, Teri Wyble, Alex Lombard

Synopsis: He freed the slaves and led the Northern states through America`s Civil War. His legacy as the greatest president of the United States endures to this day. But Abraham Lincoln`s life as the world`s greatest hunter of the undead remained a secret – until now. In a stunning, visceral and genre-bending action-adventure, director Timur Bekmambetov and producer Tim Burton reveal the incredible story of Lincoln`s lifelong war on vampires, and the role these creatures played in the untold history of the United States.

Review: When I first saw the trailer of Abraham: Vampire Hunter, a part of me was elated. It brought me immense joy to see an astute and prominent politician of the 20th century, be recreated as a butt-kicking, werewolf-hunting, wise-cracking young son of a gun who’s being played by a new age 30 year old actor. Sounded appealing to me at that time. However, I was also prepared to have my expectations not met with. The good news is, at least I was prepared.

There is bound to be speculation on a project when your director is Timur Bekmambetaov (of Wanted fame) and more so, if your producer is Tim Burton himself. However, even with household names like these to back it, a movie that centers around the semi-fictional details of a real life
character still seems like a bit of a gamble. All in all, Ab Lincoln adds just one more title to this year’s many hits and misses in the fantasy/fiction genre. Forgettable in a couple weeks, at best.

Seth Graeme Smith, who’s novel the movie is adapted from also wrote the screenplay. Mr. Smith, effortlessly weaves in events from Lincoln’s personal life to make for plot points in the film. For example, he justifies noble Lincoln’s detest for vampires and his vampire-beheading addiction to a real life event from his actual life: Lincoln’s mom dying when he was a kid. Not to mention other intricate nuances like the fact that he used an axe to chop his wood and worked as a clerk in a store to earn some cash on the side while studying for his law exams.

Make no mistake about it, history buffs will salivate at the prospect of some of the events in the film. To see the ‘Great Emancipator of the United States’ hop out of the textbooks and onto the screen in such badass fashion is pretty surreal. His depiction, while exaggerated is still quite amusing. However, the main problem does not lie in the premise of the film. In all honesty, the whacky premise is the only thing that could possibly work in the movie’s favor. The real issue is that most of the performers on screen, don’t seem to be enjoying themselves at all. Which is absurd, considering they’re embarking upon an absolute fairytale of a screenplay. It’s astounding that there was little to no humor in the entire film. Not even dark humor. It pretty much threw the film into the
trash bin of boring cinema we’ve experienced ever so often this year.

The bland characters are somehow given some masala thanks to the technical aspects. The fight sequences, in particular are a saving grace. This, coupled with the slow motion/fast motion cinematography make for the more memorable parts of Ab Licoln.

In terms of performances, Benjamin Walker as the protagonist is fairly believable. He comes into his own in the latter half of the film. Though he never fully manages to carry the film on his shoulders, he does leave you with a lasting impression. A gritty one, at that. Dominic Cooper plays the mentor with poise. His performance is subdued and yet strangely effective. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is cute. I recall her from playing Bruce Willis’ daughter in Die Hard 4. Her portrayal of Lincoln’s wife was honest and she added an endearing charm to her character. Rufus Sewell is menacing as the vampire antagonist and manages to pull it off with conviction.

Verdict: Vampires are getting old. Historical characters are done and dusted. The ‘Twilight’ phase has eclipsed. and Sherlock Holmes is about all the historical characterization we can handle right now. In these times, a mixture of these two might have been considered wise, but not in this case. This certainly isn’t a memoir that Mr. Lincoln would like to add in his classic, stovepipe hat.

Jackie J. Thakkar

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