June 22, 2012
Seth Grahme-Smith (Screenplay, novel)
Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln
Dominic Cooper as Henry Sturgess
Anthony Mackie as Will Johnson
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln
Rufus Sewell as Adam
Marton Csokas as Jack Barts
Jimmi Simpson as Joshua Speed
Abraham Lincoln is known as the President of the United States who presided over the most violent and deadly period in American History; The Civil War. Lincoln is also the president who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, ending the dark time in our countries history when slaves powered the agricultural engine of the South. The story that Timur Bekmanbetov, in a decidedly “Tim Burton” way, puts a vastly different spin on what is found in the history books about the background of “Honest Abe” – that of a Vampire Hunter.
During his childhood young Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) witnessed his mother’s murder at the hands of the devious Jack Barts (Marton Csokas), not an easy and quick death but rather one of a festering wound that ended his mother’s life while he was reading to her from her favorite book. From that time on Abe could think of nothing but revenge, and when he finally achieved an age and stature capable of doing the deed he set out to kill Jack Barts.
After a couple of close calls Abe manages to put a bullet in the eye socket of Barts and thinks his life’s ambition is complete – but Barts is not dead. Luckily a mysterious stranger Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper) had been following Abe and rescues him from the clutches of Barts, not merely a man but a blood-thirsty vampire impervious to the simple weapons of the day. Abe proceeds to beg Sturgess to teach him how to slay vampires so he can finish what he started with his mother’s murderer, and so begins the lifelong path of Abe Lincoln to rid the country of the growing vampire population, living on plantations in the South, and prevent them from taking the United States of America for themselves. He will accomplish his task through the use of a silver axe – and later through words as he sets out to save his country once and for all.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter had some accusations of being disrespectful to the history and myth of one of the countries’ most recognized and admired Presidents, but actually does exactly the opposite. By presenting Abraham Lincoln as both a kick-ass vampire hunter and a champion for the rights of all humans, the myth can only be strengthened and made more dramatic. And Lincoln is indeed a bad-ass in this film, powered by the truth, he has the ability to take vampires apart one and two at a time with just his trusty axe as a weapon. The combination of CGI and live action is perfect in the fight scenes, some of them quite “Matrix-like” – without the hovering in air of course.
The performances in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter are all excellent, adding to the fantasy and the action. I loved the inclusion of Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln (Final Destination III, The Thing) as she’s a bit of a personal favorite. Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln is pretty spot on, especially considering there were no moving pictures from the 1850s so there is no way to know how the real Lincoln actually behaved. I think it’s better that way.
From an expectations standpoint, let’s make sure nobody expects Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter to be a horror movie, because it definitely is not. This film is a horror film like Underworld is a horror film… there are horror characters certainly, but this is much more an action/adventure with horror themes. Still, Underworld is good and so is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Very entertaining.
History buffs are going to have a huge problem with the reimagining of history that takes place in this film, but ultimately enough of the real course of events is peppered in to make the whole thing actually somewhat plausible. Well, if you are a Horror Freak prone to suspending disbelief, then somewhat plausible. That’s good enough for me.