Friday, July 6, 2012
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER (2012)
Author Seth Grahame-Smith, who adapted his novel of the same name, specializes in adding the supernatural and horrific to revered literature (as he did in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and revered historical figures, as he has done here. If we are to believe this alternate history, Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) spent his formative years learning how to hunt and kill vampires from the mysterious Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper). As a boy Lincoln witnessed slaver and vampire Jack Barts (Marton Csokas) draining his sleeping mother and vows revenge. In Grahame-Smith’s universe, vampires walk in daylight and have the ability to disappear and reappear (usually right behind you). Also, and this is important, they are unable to attack each other. Only a human being can attack and kill a vampire. Got that? The northern vampire population begins to dwindle thanks to Lincoln, and this brings him to the attention of Adam (Rufus Sewell), a southern plantation and slave owner and, not coincidentally, the father of vampires. Love and politics sidetrack Lincoln, and he marries Mary Todd (a wasted Mary Elizabeth Winstead) before being elected president. But vampires are not so easily ignored, and Lincoln will need the help of shopkeeper Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson) and friend Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie) to fend off a nationwide attack. For much of the film’s first half director Timur Bekmambetov and Grahame-Smith focus on Lincoln’s vendetta and maintain a mostly irreverent tone. But once slavery and the Civil War become pivotal to the action, what began as a diverting but tasteless exercise nosedives into the patently offensive. Did you know that the Southern army initially did so well at the battle of Gettysburg because they had undead fighting with them? Or that, in addition to slaves, the Underground Railroad smuggled silver north to help the Union fight vampire soldiers? But I digress. Sewell’s presence is welcome if undistinguished, while Cooper is charismatic and engaging. Walker, however, is stiff and uninteresting, which matches the overall dreariness of this video game disguised as a movie.