Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Review (Kirk Haviland)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

Starring Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell and Jimmi Simpson.

Written by Seth Grahame-Smith

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is one of a line of mash-up books, including Grahame-Smith’s own Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which are currently extremely popular in the fiction world. Teaming up with Producer/Director Bekmambetov and Producer Tim Burton, and adapting his own book for the screen, Grahame-Smith brings the first of his two books to the theaters this summer with Abe Lincoln. With it’s over the top visuals and absurdist premise, will Abe Lincoln Vamp Hunter be among this year’s most fun excursions to the multiplex or will it be this year’s Jonah Hex?

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter traces the former president’s story back to when he was a child. We first meet Abraham as he interferes with the beating of a local black child Will and ends ups getting part of the beating himself. After his father and mother interfere on his behest, Abe’s parents are fired and their debt is collected in the form of a vampire attack, that Abe witnesses, resulting in the death of his mother. Sworn to an oath by his father to not seek revenge, an adult Abe (Walker) goes after the man who killed his mother, Jack Barts (Marton Csokas), after his father’s passing. Upon shooting Barts Abe discovers that he is indeed a Vampire and is summarily beaten to a pulp, but a mysterious figure saves him by interfering. Abe wakens to discover his savior, Henry Sturgess (Cooper), is well versed in the vampire nation and has been fighting them since he lost his own family to them. Henry takes Abe on as his apprentice under the condition that he focuses on the training and not revenge on Barts. We get the obligatory training montage as Henry teaches Abe to focus his power and passes on the pertinent vamp killing info (in this tale silver can be used to strike down vampires) and it becomes clear that Abe’s skill doesn’t lie with firearms, but with his trusty axe. Abe is sent off to New Salem in order to rid the vampire infestation hit man style with Henry assigning him targets. It’s here Abe meets Speed (Simpson), a local shopkeeper, who takes in Abe as employee and tenant, the adult version of Will (Mackie) and the woman he would marry Mary Todd (Winstead). Things progress till Abe get the assignment he’s been waiting for in Barts and what ensues is a bat shit crazy over the top fight sequence amidst a horse stampede. Soon after Abe’s successful destruction of Barts he puts away his axe to focus on his political aspirations, but fate will intervene again many years later.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is one of the most ludicrous things I have seen in a theater all year, and I loved every minute of it. Bekmambetov plays out the entire movie with tongue planted firmly in cheek as the film never loses sight of what it really is – a goofy way over the top romp where nothing is out of bounds. Hell there’s a sequence in which a Vampire THROWS A HORSE at Abraham Lincoln that he catches and spins IN MID AIR and then starts riding without missing a single step and galloping a full pace! Thankfully everyone in the film seems to be in on the jokes as well. Walker’s Lincoln is a straight laced proper gentleman but always has a mischievous look or smile not too far away; he is clearly having a good time. Cooper’s Henry Sturgess is a boozy vagabond with a troubled past yet is never far away from a quick one liner. Winstead’s Mary Todd is pretty much the one character played straight up, which is good as it reminds us Abe’s actions will have consequences and grounds the film enough so as it doesn’t become so ridiculous that it’s unwatchable. Sewell’s Head Vampire villain Adam dominates the screen whenever he appears as Sewell clearly knows exactly what the film expects and needs from him.

Will some people hate and despise Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter? I’m sure they will. It’s certainly not high art or a historical cinematic achievement, but it certainly is a hell of a lot of fun. Abraham Lincoln is a recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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