Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Starring; Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
During the first half-hour of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the young man who will eventually become the future 16th president of the United States is constantly confronted with questions about who he is.
In a bar, Lincoln (Benjamin Walker, left, with Dominic Cooper) is asked whether his drunkenness stems from a desire to kiss a girl or kill a man; in a fight, he is taunted about thinking whether he is a man who will shoot, or one who won't.
These queries are probably key in preparing viewers for Lincoln's future (and fictional) double-life as a humanist and an axe-wielding terminator of the undead, but perhaps director Timur Bekmambetov should have reflected on them when adapting Seth Grahame-Smith's novel into an effects-laden blockbuster. As it stands, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is seemingly fashioned as a lot of things but never really being remarkable in any.
The film is certainly meant to be more than just the silly action thriller its title suggests. Just like Gangs of New York, ABVH could be seen as a parable offering an explanation and warning about current political predicaments.
Lincoln's abolitionist ideals and the American Civil War are now explained as a war between humans and vampires (and their human proxy in the Confederates) feeding on and exploiting slaves.
However, Bekmambetov and Grahame-Smith seem unable to bring the original material out of the 'mash-up' genre it was born in. The result flails and fails as a gory B-movie (overuse of computer graphics), a political epic (the US-centric perspective of the world is troubling rather than progressive), a revenge tale (the reason behind Lincoln's ire is soon forgotten amid the mayhem) or a love story (the relationship with his wife, Mary Todd).
It's probably better than previous mash-ups like Cowboys and Aliens, but it's not going to rejuvenate the genre.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter opens today