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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Timur Bekmambetov, 2012)


Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter states the moronic what-if that serves as its central conceit right in its title, but even that is unlikely to prepare you for the turgid mess that director Timur Bekmambetov has delivered. Following up on his Wanted, which had enough flippant attitude to sell me on its rote superhero origin story, the director decides that he should treat Vampire Hunterís hysterical historical revisionism with the utmost seriousness. This is a disastrous decision, resulting in a bloated and lazy work that is far less fun than it should be. The dumb joke that the title promises is expected to do so much heavy lifting here that one feels no one else can lift a finger to add the slightest bit of inspiration. Big screen summer escapism certainly has its place, but here the idiocy runs even more rampant than the vampires that have purportedly conquered the filmís fantastic version of the American South.


Honest Abe (a vapid, yet glowering Benjamin Walker) is introduced here as a small child whose mother becomes a target of vampires after a squabble involving the honor of a black boy. Enraged by his impotence in preventing her death, the young Mr. Lincoln is somehow endowed with super strength and becomes an assassin of the undead. Despite an obvious emotional hook present in Lincolnís quest for vengeance, however, Vampire Hunter quickly takes on a disjointed feel, stringing together scenes almost randomly. Each of Lincolnís targets predictably provides an opportunity for a brief action set piece, which Bekmambetov layers no small amount of special effects upon. Never for a moment are any of them scary. More haphazard are the scenes tracing his courtship of Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and those involving his employment under, Speed (Jimmi Simpson), a general store operator. These bits of the film never feel like less than an unwelcome digression, as they are chock full of bad dialogue and terrible acting.


By treating its goofiness as gospel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter becomes a vacuum, devoid of fun or inventiveness. Despite a premise that gleefully promises to tweak historical fact, the film seems bound to an astonishingly impersonal treatment of the Presidentís life. Walker makes almost no impression as the President, because he has next to no character to play. ďHistory prefers legends to men,Ē Lincoln solemnly states at the start of the film, promising at least a humanization of Honest Abe. Bekmambetovís feeble vampire hunter might as well have been called John Smith.



Jeremy Heilman