An alternative take on history
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)
Duration: 105 minutes
Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Benjamin Walker; Dominic Cooper; Anthony Mackie; Mary Elizabeth Winstead; Rufus Sewell; Marton Csokas; Jimmi Simpson; Joseph Mawle; Robin McLeavy
Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2010 alternate history novel makes its way to the big screen courtesy of director Timur Bekmambetov, the same director who had delivered the box-office hit Wanted (2008).
The premise itself is an outrageous one: It takes one of the most famous US Presidents in history and intermixes his story with that of vampires, action and horror to produce a wildly exciting genre film.
When Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) was just a boy, his mother was killed by a vampire named Jack Barts (Marton Csokas) due to debts owed by his father.
Abraham grows up fuelled by his need for revenge. One day he meets Henry (Dominic Cooper), a vampire hunter who teaches him how to hunt down the fanged ones. Henry provides him with the location, timings and the vampires that are to be killed. However, the odds are greatly against Abraham.
Vampires are now infiltrating all of America’s society. The slave trade is also a means for the southern plantation owners (most of whom are vampires) to import fresh food on which to feast on.
So Abraham studies law while tending shop for Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson) and eventually meets, falls in love and marries Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
Soon Lincoln is pushed towards politics and ends up being elected US President.
This leads to the start of the Civil War where vampire Adam (Rufus Sewell) targets him as his next kill to preserve the Confederacy and weaken the north.
The film is, first of all, respectful of Abraham Lincoln and the legacy that he left behind him. It is not a parody. The smiles will come from the excellent one-liners and the preposterous settings in which the story propels itself forward.
When this is balanced out with the exciting direction and the action sequences, it makes for very entertaining popcorn munching movie experience.
The action is deliciously styled and scenes like a wild stampede of horses add several dollops of fun in a manner that other action films cannot grasp.
The movie’s audience will be rewarded with a finale that has a battle on top of a locomotive that is loaded with silver rolling towards Gettysburg, one the most pivotal battles of the American Civil War.
The madder the scenarios become, the more flair Mr Bekmambetov injects into his visuals.
Mr Walker puts in the right amount of earnestness into his role and looks to be quite happy tearing into bloodsuckers here and there. Likewise, Mr Sewell is simply excellent in his villain role.
The secret here is that, while the setting is outrageous, the cast play it all straight, with nary a wink at the audience.
This is what reinforces our suspension of belief and provides the movie with that added “oomph”.