Jul 10, 2012|
Whether you believe in vampires or not (Twilight fans not counted), the untold story of America’s greatest president Abraham Lincoln as an axe-wielding vampire killer sounds intriguing on paper. On the big screen, however, director Timur Bekmambetov’s (Wanted) well-known kinetic visual style, featuring gravity-defying action sequences, transposed to an 1800s setting where the characters dress up like hillbillies, looks nothing short of ridiculous.
Adapted by screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith (author of the bestselling Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) from his own novel, this splatter-shot romp has Lincoln (Benjamin Walker, curiously made up to look like a young Liam Neeson) hell-bent on killing vampires. (As a child, he witnessed mommy being sucked to death by one.) Years later, he takes up the art of vampire assassination from Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper), a fellow loner. By the time he’s settled in Springfield, Illinois, studying law, Lincoln has become adept at eliminating ghouls using an axe with a silver-tipped blade. The movie then zigzags between Lincoln’s numerous blood-splattering escapades, his relationship with girlfriend-then-wife Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and his rise as a political figure. At the center of all this moody nonsense is a parallel between slavery and vampirism, and how vampire-slayers are proto-Union soldiers.
Certainly with so much going on, the film is uneven. Granted, the visual effects are spectacular, especially in a jaw-dropping scene where Lincoln chases after a vampire during a horse stampede, but the film is all over the place. Narrative has never been Bekmambetov’s strong point, and in a semi-non-fictional film such as this one, perhaps our hero should have been made more believable. Instead, the director’s fondness for weightlessly explosive digital FX habitually disguised as movie substance is overbearing.