Published June 22, 2012
We should file a complaint with our local board of education because our high school history teachers apparently lied to us about Abraham Lincoln, if we're to believe the new film about the former president being a vampire hunter. The 16th President of the United States knew martial arts. He was incredibly graceful at doing a jumping roundhouse kick while beheading bloodsuckers with his ax. His mother didn’t die from tremetol. She died from vampires, causing her son to go on a vamp-killing spree. Also, did you know he single handedly stopped the Confederate Army (who were all vampires) with weapons from the White House kitchen? Oh, and let’s not forget that the great emancipator also had a hidden gun in the butt of his trusty ax that fires silver bullets.
Yes, those are all elements of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" and no, this movie is not a comedy.
“Lincoln” is a cheek in dire need of a tongue. With the most preposterous of plots, one would expect “Lincoln” to be funny, but it’s not. It takes itself as seriously as a disease, and therein lies the biggest problem with this film. Produced by Tim Burton and directed by Timur Bekmambetov, “Lincoln’s” seriousness is a complete about-face from the outrageousness of its premise. If it played itself fast and loose, we’d have something completely original and off the rails – a movie that could easily become a cult classic. Instead we just have a silly title.
Based off the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith (he also wrote the screenpay), “Lincoln” strictly follows the superhero formula; young Lincoln witnesses his mother’s death by a vampire, then in blind rage seeks vengeance. Enter wise mage Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), who teaches the store clerk/law student to focus his anger, wield an ax, and become the ultimate vampire hunter -- a prerequisite to run for office.
Over the years, Lincoln splits his duties. He politics and hunts Adam (Rufus Sewell), the vampire from whence all vampires have originated. We’re treated to the Civil War, the emancipation of slaves, the Gettysburg Address and his relationship with Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). The film tips the balance too much wanting to be a historical action epic like “The Patriot” instead of going the other way toward being silly vampire slasher film.
Benjamin Walker, a near-spitting image of Liam Neeson, is our Lincoln. He certainly looks the part and his command of making Honest Abe a vampire hunter is rather enjoyable. Walker’s transition from young Lincoln to old Lincoln, from vampire hunter to President is surprisingly the most natural element in the movie. He’s a promising young actor with quite a bit of potential.
The vampire effects are decent. They thankfully don’t sparkle in the sunlight and their harsh transformations, at times, can be a bit frightening, following the vampire trend of stretched and elongated CGI faces of recent vampire films.
If you’re expecting a comedy you will be disappointed. If you’re looking for a serious action film with President Lincoln killing vampires, then you’ll be pleased. Either way, your brain is not required upon entry. Now that we know the untold story behind Abraham Lincoln’s extracurricular activities, what were Presidents Rutherford Hayes and Grover Cleveland really up to?