Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
- Director:Timur Bekmambetov
- Cast:Dominic Cooper, Rufus Sewell, Benjamin Walker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
- Release Date:August 02, 2012
- Distributor:20th Century Fox
- Running time:105 minutes
- Film Worth:$13.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
It's an entertaining romp, but its central conceit - that it was vampires responsible for slavery rather than heartless Americans - is too troubling to overlook.
Yes, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is essentially just a playful meld of American history with the conceits of the vampire movie, but there's also something slightly unsettling about it. Without wanting to get too serious about a film with pretensions to being nothing more than a bone-rattling thrill-ride, this adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's popular novel actually plays out like some kind of (obviously unintentional) apologia or wishful-thinking emotional excuse for America's history of slavery in the south. The film posits the lurid premise that the 1800's slave trade was not the work of avaricious, heartless Americans, but was rather the doing of vampires, who had shipped in from Europe many years before. Amidst the blood-spray and dazzling fight choreography, the tastelessness of that conceit is sometimes buried, but it's still there. After all, what would people think if a film was made, say, in which The Holocaust was presented as a mere front for vampire Nazis to drink the blood of their Jewish prisoners? That's pretty insensitive, and so is the ultimately emotionally dishonest but admittedly glossily entertaining, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
The film begins with a feisty young Abe Lincoln witnessing the murder of his mother at the hands of a vampire. Once grown into a strapping young man (played by engaging Liam Neeson lookalike, Benjamin Walker, who actually played the younger version of the actor's character in 2004's Kinsey), Abe embarks on a quest for revenge. This brings him into contact with vampire hunter, Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper), who eventually mentors the callow Abe in the ways of kicking undead butt. Abe's vampire hunting then becomes a sideline to his legal and political career, as he rises to the office of US President, and then struggles to quell the legions of the undead - led by the evil Adam (Rufus Sewell) - who are fighting to keep slavery alive for their own blood-sating purposes.
Directed with typical hyperactive flair by Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Wanted), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter sits interestingly between two poles. There's not enough history to satisfy older audiences (Lincoln's political ascendancy is glossed over completely, and the connections to real historical events are not particularly smart or imaginative), and younger audiences will probably just wonder why the film's hero eventually ends up sporting a funny looking beard. That said, there's a fair bit to like here too. Walker is a rock-solid hero; the villains (even bang-obvious bad guy pick, Rufus Sewell) are all suitably malevolent and vaguely campy; there are genuine scares and horror; and Abe Lincoln's axe-wielding, vampire-slaying shenanigans are nicely visceral. At a trim 105 minutes, the film also sensibly doesn't overstay its welcome, thankfully aware of the fact that it's not a real historical epic. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter works as pure entertainment, but there's ultimately something bad in its heart that just beats too loudly to ignore.