ABRAHAM LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER, 2012
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Stars: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Alan Tudyk, Anthony Mackie, Jimmi Simpson, Laura Cayouette, Robin McLeavy, Jaqueline Fleming, Erin Wasson, John Rothman
ABRAHAM LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER MOVIE TRAILER WATCH
President Lincoln's mother is killed by a supernatural creature, which fuels his passion to crush vampires and their slave-owning helpers.
Is there a better idea for a goofy adventure movie than the secret history of Abraham Lincoln as a vampire hunter? He could split a rail, so why couldn’t he split a vampire? That’s the idea behind “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” which details secret battle with the undead after his mother is murdered by one. Seeking vengeance he trains with a good vampire (Dominic Cooper), learning how to use a silver coated axe to great effect, and seeks out the children of the night with his valet and friend William Johnson (Anthony Mackie).
It’s the kind of insane goofiness film handles extremely well and when done by a talented storyteller it can be both evocative and incredibly entertaining.
But, much like whimsy, it’s the sort of tightrope which can be perilous to walk as it must maintain a certain mood while still maintaining suspension of disbelief and while audiences may be willing to forgive a lot in a comedy when the blood starts flying it’s a different story. At its best you can get something like “Braindead” or “Dead Alive.”
When the director completely doesn’t get the nature of the genre he’s working in, however, you get something like “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”
On the surface director Timur Bekmambetov should be the perfect choice for this sort of thing. He’s definitely got a feel for ridiculous action spectacle mixed with vampires from his “Night Watch” films and it shows in “Abraham Lincoln’s” frenetic set pieces. Though he has propensity to fill the screen with smoke and fog, making it difficult to see what’s going on, he makes up for it with the sheer madness of the setup, such as one bravura sequence as Lincoln chases his mother’s murderer through and on top of a heard of stampeding horses.
Unfortunately, when the action ends and it comes time for the actual storytelling it becomes clear Bekmambetov has no idea what to do and unfortunately writer Seth Graham-Smith (adapting his own book) doesn’t seem to know how to help him. The result is a ridiculous movie with no sense of humor. Despite a fine performance from star Benjamin Walker, who is particularly good at capturing elder Lincoln’s return to vampire hunting. The filmmaker’s decision is to make everyone as straight as possible; using trite and dull action movie beats combined with nods to period history which are sometimes clever and sometimes ridiculous (Lincoln steals his wife from arch political rival Stephen Douglas).
It’s too bad, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” really is a great idea for an adventure movie, but a high concept isn’t enough in and of itself. You’ve got to know what to do with it. And no one here seems to have any idea.