Everyone knows Abraham Lincoln as the 16th President of the United States but what if he had a darker and more bloodied past; one that involved hunting down vampires and decapitating them with his silver-bladed axe. Based on the mashup novel by the same name, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter explores this alternate universe in which Lincoln not only delivers rousing speeches, but also kicks some major vampire ass.
The premise of the story combines real facts from Abraham Lincoln’s life but merges them with vampire mythology. As a young boy, Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) was witness to his mother’s death at the hands of a vampire. Since then he has vowed to avenge her death and hunt down and kill as many of the foul creatures as he can. He is trained by vampire hunting veteran Henry who teaches him the ins and outs of vampires. Pretty much all you need to know is that they can go invisible and are vulnerable to silver. And just like that, Honest Abe is making an honest living hunting down the creatures of the night.
This is the aspect of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter that shines. Director Timur Bekmambetov, who directed 2008’s Wanted as well, knows how to create intense and eye-pleasing action sequences. There are plenty of slow motion shots that capture Lincoln in all his axe wielding glory. Oh, and blood. Buckets and buckets of blood.
Where Vampire Hunter falls short is its story. The film tries to desperately weave every bit of Lincoln’s history in with vampire lore. Battle of Gettysburg? Vampires. Son’s death? Vampires. There are some notable faces in the film including Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), William Johnson (Anthony Mackie), and Stephen A. Douglas (Alan Tudky). Frankly, it tries too hard to tell a convincing story when all audiences want to see is the President kill vampires.
Those going to see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter already know what type of film they’re getting into. It’s no masterpiece but it’s also not a bad action flick. Unfortunately, the film attempts to excel at both.
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