Today I watched Timur Bekmambetov’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)
Adapted from a novel of the same name, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter recasts America’s favorite president as a hunter of the night’s fiercest predator. Abe’s mother is killed by the vampires when he is still a boy and when he is old enough he embarks on a quest for revenge, still unaware of the supernatural nature of his quarry. He meets an experienced vampire hunter named Henry Sturges who takes Abe under his wing and teaches him the ways of the hunter, which inexplicably includes super strength. Lincoln takes up a silver headed axe to do battle with the undead but eventually realizes that the vampires are too entrenched for a lone vigilante to defeat, it will take a nation.
Your enjoyment of the film will probably be equivalent to how intrigued you are by this silly premise, what if Abe Lincoln’s crusade for liberty was also a battle against supernatural slave trading bloodsuckers? Unfortunately if this does not pique your interest, there is not much else to the film. It has plenty of absurd spectacle, fun action, and zany historical references but taken on it’s own the film lacks drama and it’s attempt to garner anything of the sort distract from it’s better qualities of ridiculousness. That being said, if you want some really silly action starring Honest Abe Lincoln, this film does deliver and those absurd action scenes are really fun.
The film also has a pretty great cast headed by Benjamin Walker as Abe. The strongest supporting cast members would have to be Dominic Cooper as Abe’s trainer Sturges and Anthony Mackie as William Johnson who gets some great action beats in the finale. The best member of the cast though is Rufus Sewell as the head vampire Adam, his performance is pure understated malice, the perfect human predator. Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln is on the other end of the spectrum, though the poor performance is likely due to her character getting the worst self serious attempts at drama from the hopelessly silly script.
While the film has it’s missteps, it still manages to be very entertaining. It is a ludicrous and strange cultural artifact that blends CGI driven action spectacle inspired as much by John Woo as George Lucas with unapologetically absurd Americana. Sometimes the film seems to be asking to be taken seriously and it can fall apart during these moments, just pay them no heed and the rollercoaster will be underway again shortly. It’s not a film that should be thought about too much, it’s just so silly, but in that vein of movies it is perfectly enjoyable. 4/5