“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”
“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is never quite as much fun as its title would suggest. He’s the Great Emancipator by day, but Vampire Hunter by night. The site of Honest Abe twirling an axe and decapitating undead bloodsuckers in super slow-motion is inherently silly, but apparently no one clued old Abe, or any of the filmmakers, in on the joke.
When his mother is killed by a vampire, Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) longs for vengeance and comes under the tutelage of a vampire hunter (Dominic Cooper.) He’s equipped with a special silver coated ax to dispatch the undead with (since apparently the old wooden stake to the heart trick would have been insufficiently showy).
But Abe tires of the drudgery of killing the undead and enters into politics instead, winning the hand of a young Mary Todd. She never seems to mind that big ax he’s always reaching for, or badly concealing under his long coat. In this story, Vampires created slavery as a way of keeping their appetites abated, and fight on the side of the south. When the civil war breaks out, Abe leads the nation while singlehandedly dispatching as many toothy creatures as he can while doing a triple Lutz.
Director Timur Bekmambetov stages every fight scene in a hyperactive style that cuts quickly from sped-up action to super slow motion to better showcase every drop of blood spilt on the land of Lincoln. But apart from two impressive sequences, one on top of a stampede, and the other on a runaway train on a crumbling trellis, the fight scenes lose their novelty pretty quickly. The vampires themselves are disappointingly generic too, turning into garden variety CGI monsters looking to do a little passionate necking.
Seth Graham-Green adapted the story from his own historical mash-up novel and slips in some subtle attempts at humor here and there. The film yielded a few laughs from the audience I saw it with, but those were at odds with the grim-faced seriousness that surrounded everything else. If the moviemakers had lightened up and played it with tongue planted firmly in cheek instead of dead eyed seriousness — this might have become a trashy good time.