When thinking of action films from Hollywood, originality is one of the last words that comes to mind. Generally an action film consists of one of three things: robots, cars, or thieves.And oftentimes a combination of all three. This Summer, I am one of many who wait with great anticipation for an action film that bends the genre, taking a new twist on the tried and true vampire theme all set against a backdrop of history, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. For those familiar with Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel of the same name this does not sound as far fetched of an idea as it may to those that are unfamiliar.
In a nutshell, Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) as a young boy discovers that vampires exist when his mother is killed by one. Seeking to avenge his mothers death young Lincoln pairs up with Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper) an expert in fighting and killing vampires. But after finding little comfort in the endless killing, Lincoln decides to choose another path and runs for political office seeking to be the voice of the people, a leader committed to abolishing slavery, and of course ensuring that vampires do not take over the United States.
Set against a very traditionally historical backdrop, Vampire Hunter’s fantasy element stands out. And while the film was not at all what I expected, it is a perfect, fun summer film. Full of action scenes, and vampires that several times made me jump in my seat. (So refreshingly not sparkly.) Director, Timur Bekmambetov, brings to life the originality of Grahame-Smith’s world. It is a world that is unbelievable, yet the uncanny resemblance that actor Benjamin Walker has to our 16th president grounds the film in a bit of history. And isn’t it fun to imagine that vampires have existed throughout history?
There are some issues with the continuity in the film. The most glaring, the way in which Lincoln’s childhood friend, Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie), keeps his youthful appearance, while the president who is roughly the same age, shows his age toward the end of the film as he approaches his 55th year. Perhaps it is Will’s skincare regimen that maintains his youthful appearance? Despite these minor continuity issues, and what keeps the film afloat are the fantastically choreographed fight scenes, many with Lincoln wielding his silver tipped ax. Walker, at six feet three inches, moves gracefully across the screen twirling his ax as if it was a sword. It is a fun image. My favorite fight sequence comes toward the end of the film and involves a train.
My biggest complaint wit the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is the conversion from 2D to 3D. I would recommend skipping the 3D version, I am sure many action film geeks will argue with me, but the 3D is not up to par and certainly not worth the added dollars.
Sure, the film is a bit over the top. The action scenes a bit epic in scope, and the lines and acting a bit cheesy at times. But how refreshing to enjoys some originality at the movies this summer.
Read our exclusive interview with director Timur Bekmambetov here.