In this historically accurate cinematic document… Wait, what’s that? Abraham Lincoln was NOT a vampire hunter? Oh. Well that’s disappointing. Old Abe was a whiz with the axe, though, and was basically the original American ninja, yes? No? Bummer. But vampires did play a significant part in the Civil War, correct? NO?! Are you freaking kidding me?! So none of this stuff is true? All Lincoln did was free the slaves and reunify a country that was almost fatally shattered and in doing so became the greatest president in the history of the United States of America? Well that’s a pretty darn good story in and of itself, why didn’t they just make a movie about that? They did? Daniel Day-Lewis, you say? Alright, see you guys later. There are two questions one must consider when evaluating the merits of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter:
1.) Is this a GOOD movie? (As in, are the characters relatively well defined, is the story fleshed out appropriately, etc.) 2.) Is this an ENJOYABLE movie? (Are the visuals, special effects, fight scenes, and the rest entertaining enough to make up for any flaws it might have otherwise.)
The answer to that first question is most assuredly, “Sweet goodness, no.” For my money, this is one of the worst screenplays of the year, the kind of low-rent writing that should be reserved for Syfy movies and James Patterson novels. (That’s a cheap shot, Mr. Patterson, and I’d be happy to apologize if you’ll agree to only publish 12 books this year instead of 27.) The plot itself is ridiculous, which is fine, but it jumps from scene to scene in the spirit of an arcade game, not a movie, and gives absolutely no thought to story or character development. Most scenes could have started with a background player saying something to the effect of, “Oh, hey, (insert plot point) just happened!” allowing Abe a reason to spring into action. The cast of Vampire Hunter is solid enough, with Benjamin Walker (Lincoln) surrounded by Rufus Sewell, Anthony Mackie, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, but none are given much to work with and almost all of them seem to be keenly aware of what a horrible career decision they made when they signed on for this film. Walker is perhaps the only member of the main cast who appears to be working hard but, bless his fake-bearded heart, he’s just not an especially talented actor. And while some directors might have chosen to patch the holes together with time and skill, Timur Bekmambetov instead chooses to bludgeon his material with a heavy hammer until it’s all a mashed together into a barely-coherent whole.
But like many smaller scale would-be blockbusters, that second question is almost more important for Vampire Hunter than the first. And the answer to that one is resoundingly…NO. It is NOT enjoyable, nor is it worthwhile from an effects/visuals/action standpoint. This is clearly a film that was designed to be a 3D “spectacle” which means that if you’re not seeing it in 3D, you’re constantly going to be confronted with moments of, “WHOOOOOAAAAA! THIS GUY WOULD TOTALLY BE FLYING OUT OF THE SCREEN RIGHT NOW IF YOU HAD A 3D TV!!!” and numerous shots that serve no purpose other than to pander to the 3D gimmick. To me, that sort of filmmaking is just the worst, right up there with the guys who make the Scary Movie spoofs and anything that involves Katherine Heigl. It’s a bit, not a film, and that makes me angry (Hulk smash). Moreover, Abraham Lincoln has little to offer in the way of genuine fun. I am an unabashed supporter of films like The A-Team that have little to offer in the way of good old fashioned quality filmmaking but score major points in the, “I know I shouldn’t like this but it’s so stinking fun” department. This movie has NONE of that sort of dimwitted charm. Screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith (who also wrote the book) acts as if the audience is automatically going to have a swell time with his movie so there’s really no point in bothering to write anything that is inherently enjoyable or fun, which begs the question: What is the bloody point? Answer: There is none. By my count I’ve seen about 80 films from 2012’s crop and I would say about 76 of them are more worthy of your time than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Director: Timur Bekmambetov Cast: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie Rated: R (Gory violence, some language, and one completely unnecessary example of, “Let’s make sure this gets an R-rating” nudity) Recommended For: Pretty much no one