Oooh. That was disappointing. There are so many good stuff in the premise of Seth Grahame-Smith’s genre mash-up book that could have made its screen adaptation – pardon the term – amazeballs. Instead, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is the worst outing of Timur Bekmambetov. Psyched he was at the helm of the movie, I was expecting an all-out special effects-driven excitement. Alas, not even his strength in visuals was in full display. It is a pity considering its lead star acquitted himself well as the axe-wielding president of the United States. Before impressionistic kids get any ideas, Abraham Lincoln is not a vampire hunter in real-life. But he presided over one of the bloodiest episodes in the history of the nation – the Civil War. In Grahame-Smith’s alternate universe, the Civil War was not just between the Confederates and the Unionists. No. Far too boring. In his novel, the Confederates were allied with a group of plantation-owning murderous vampires. And slavery is the mechanism that kept these nasty bloodsuckers contained in the South. As long as there is a fresh batch of slaves, these monsters will not spread themselves to the rest of the country. But President Lincoln, having seen the horrors first-hand and having lost his mother from a vampire bite, pushed for the emancipation of Negroes.
Most of the times, our ideas of heroes are concrete monuments not flesh and blood humans. Thus, it is not hard to understand the appeal of a vampire-hunting President Lincoln. People respect his legacy as a leader but seeing him chop heads off is just awesome. He is not just a hero but a freakin’ superhero. That being said, lead star Benjamin Walker did all his best to bring his character to life. He looks dignified as the young Lincoln and presidential in the latter stages of the film. Good aging make-up as oppose to the awful job done to Mary Todd’s. I can see powder caking around her eyes. Walker also carried the action scenes well.
But the scene-stealer, so to speak, is Dominic Cooper as Henry Sturgess. As the vampire-hunting mentor to Lincoln, he delivered just the right amount of menace and magnetism to his character. It also helps his character is one of the more interesting ones in a bunch of blahs. Have you seen Devil’s Double where he took on the dual roles of Uday Hussein and his body double? Cooper was incredible. Why he was not even nominated in the recent Oscars is beyond human comprehension.
The rest of the cast though, except for Anthony Mackie as Will Johnson, are forgettable. The vampires, I have to say, look like proper vampires. None of the sparkly lovesick bloodsuckers. It’s when they assume their human forms that I start having misgivings about their villain cred. I like my vampires charming and cunning – qualities these supposed evil blokes lack.
For a film that started out strong in its first few scenes, it surprisingly meandered into mediocrity. For a director with a reputation for fantastic visuals, Bekmambetov delivered a tepid movie. Although his weakness is narration, the Russian auteur has built a portfolio of some the best special-effects driven films. His most popular work, Wanted featured mind-blowing car chases and the famous bullet-bending. His two-part Russian science-fiction saga, Night Watch and Day Watch is a kaleidoscope of stunning effects and visuals. But Bekmambetov faltered in Lincoln. Not even the overdrawn horse stampede could lift it out of the doldrums. I hope he is not losing his touch because am sure he has more inside his bag of tricks.
“Real power,” Sturgess reminds Lincoln, “not comes from hate but from truth.” The truth is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter could have been an entertaining summer flick. But I hate to say, it did not meet modest expectations. The source material is interesting. The director is exciting. Some things just do not work out in the end. I am not one to nitpick on special effects because am not a big fan of such films. However, that should be the selling point of this movie. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter re-imagines the horrors of the Civil War; unfortunately, its screen translation lacks imagination.
MOVIE TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyB5oR2xBhg