Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter – Review

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter – Review

Review by FIlmFellaJames – 7/10

Revisit an alternative take on history like your on a roller-coaster in a ghost town during the reign of the 16th American president.  Bask in the inventive and imaginative slow motion spectacle or shake your head in disgust as one of the greatest men in history is stripped back to reveal an altogether different hero?  Which ever which way you cut it, this the latest offering from Russian visionary, Timur Bekmambetov will have you wondering whether it is ok to secretly love what you have just watched or hate it for all of the same reasons it is awesome.

The story quite simply follows the life of Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Walker, (or Liam Neeson from the past, the likeness is crazy) as a stock boy studying to be a lawyer with grand designs on politics all the while juggling a difficult night job as a vampire slayer.
Recruited and schooled by Henry Sturgess, Dominic Cooper, Abraham cultivates his axe wielding skill to great effect by lopping off vampire heads left right and centre as he forges a path towards the freedom of man.

Say what you like about this movies’ historical accuracy, barely any, and its brazen and often ludicrous action set pieces, you could either love or hate Timur’s latest.  Having previously directed Nightwatch, Daywatch and Wanted, I suspected I would love this film and you know what?  I fuckin did.  As over the top slow motion madness goes, Timur is at the top of his game.  The story may be a little mashed up, Seth Grahame-Smith writer of this and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (coming soon) pulls no punches when it comes to a half decent and inventive script surrounding the dynamics of the abolition of slavery and one of Americas finest presidents whilst at the same time weaving a somewhat believable narrative involving the emergence and rise of the vampire.

I enjoyed the ride, gotta be honest.  I thought Liam Neeson junior, Benjamin Walker, as Abraham was well cast, he pulled off the look and delivered an Abraham Lincoln that perhaps the real Lincoln would have liked, after all he was fond of theatre, a love that eventually put him in harms way.  I thought the supporting cast of Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Lincoln’s wife and Anthony Mackie as his best friend Will Johnson worked well within the parameters of the story and everyone else particularly the villains, Rufus Sewell and Marton Csokas, did a superb job.  All of the cast were as convincing as the world that it was set in making this a very well rounded popcorn-tastic Friday night cinema flick.

There are numerous action set pieces but two that stood out in particular.  The first being when Abraham has a punch up in the middle of a horse stampede with the vampire that killed his mother, Marton Csokas.  This one took my breath away.  It was fast paced and one of the most ludicrously over the top chase sequences since the Matrix Reloaded motorway scene.  If the Matrix was set in the past, it would have looked like this.  Its so nuts, its just goddam super.  The second scene involves fending off a vampire attack while aboard a train, a 50 year old Lincoln showing he still got skills that thrills, buddying up with his best pal back to back aboard a rampaging train while its travelling over a burning bridge.  Good grief, its stone cold awesome.

Walker and Mackie atop a train with issues

Walker rides out in a stampede.

As far as the rest of the film is concerned, the world of Abraham Lincoln is beautifully realised with  a particularly stunning de-rendering of the white house as we are teleported back in time to the very beginning of Abraham’s story.  Genius.  In fact the film has touches of genius throughout, too numerous to gloss over in this review.

Many critics have panned this film, but I don’t get why.  It is a camp, tongue in cheek swipe at the formulaic nature of historical films since made in that it embodies the essence of making a history film more 21st century.  It may have its critics out there but if you allow yourself to just go with it, you might just have a good time.  I did and I would recommend this to anyone, so would Tim Burton (no relation, damn it.).

About filmfellajames
Film critic and blogger, part time rap master, loves UNITED!!!

8 Responses to Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter – Review

  1. steven says:

    I think it was quite historically accurate.

  2. Filmfella Darren says:

    I’ve just come out of the cinema after watching this film. I could not believe how bad it was. Its biggest problem is not the fact it takes shocking liberties with history, the kind of disrespectful assault on the past that previous generations of filmmakers would have been too embarrassed to try. No, its biggest problem is that it is dead to the touch and painfully dull. The action was repetitive, numbing, wildly over-the-top and utterly stupid. There wasn’t any tension, suspense or drama to build up to the set-pieces, so they have no impact whatsoever. The vampires had no character at all – they were just two dimensional cannon fodder which made the whole film seem like a bad platform computer game. As for Ab – he didn’t convince as either a vampire hunter or a president. The sequence where Ab goes from a clueless boy to an axe-wielding warrior is rushed and his powers are glossed over – so the film can get to the mindless action set-pieces. Later, there is a jarring switch where the film attempts an ill-advised history lesson – it feels so tonally different from the first half it’s like the filmmakers rammed two bad movies together like a cut-and shut car. Then the film switches back to Lincoln’s axe-wielding madness – even though the character is now fifty, out of vampire killing practice for decades and visibly fragile looking, he becomes a skilled martial artist again. It’s mind-bogglingly idiotic. If they had gone for a tongue-in-cheek comedy horror film it might have just worked, but the film seems to take itself seriously as there isn’t a moment of light comedy in the whole film. Ultimately, it seems like an ill-advised attempt to spice up history, carrying the strong suggestion that unless the supernatural is tenuously linked to period events, and the historical figure is some weapon wielding hero – young people just don’t give a shit about the past. Another reason why I hated this film is that it could signal a worrying trend in potential propaganda films. This film has now made it possible to say, cast G.W Bush as a badass assassin who kills Iraqis behind enemy lines in a seemingly gratuitous act of cruelty, but in a twist, they turn out to be an army of the un-dead. Back to Abraham Lincoln Vampire hunter – it’s low rent pulp fiction. I’m pretty sure that Abraham Lincoln would not approve of his characterisation in this film – I’m pretty sure if he was alive today, he would be wielding an axe in the direction of director Timur Bekmambetov. I’m surprised there isn’t a law preventing Russians from (literally) revamping American history.

    • filmfellajames says:

      Darren, going to the cinema must be exhausting for you.

      This film was ALWAYS going to be ludicrous, the biggest clue being the title. In Timurs last big budget flick folks were bending the trajectory of bullets. Silliness. But, if one doesn’t take it seriously, fun.

      Darren, your inner child would kick your ass if he could, so would I, but I’m in Wales, your in Taiwan? And your inner child has been smothered to death by your rambling guff. Nice one Darren, you killed your inner child and your hiding in Taiwan.

      Nice one.

      Yo

      • Filmfella Darren says:

        Actually, going to the cinema is always thrilling James hence my commitment to this site. My inner child is alive and well and has recently been thrilled by such films as The Amazing Spider-Man , Avengers Assemble and The Lorax. I’m a little tired of your constant and misguided insinuations that I don’t get fun cinema. It’s pretty patronizing to say that I didn’t get that it was supposed to be ludicrous – of course it is. It didn’t have a problem with them revamping history – if I did, I wouldn’t have gone in to the film in the first place. I was looking forward to the prospect of a period set- horror comedy. My problem with the film is that the action just washes over you. I didn’t find it thrilling or exciting or entertaining – I found it dull. The vampires are just targets to hit, so they just aren’t interesting. How they can set a film in New Orleans and have that lack of atmosphere is beyond me. Also, it’s all well and good to say it is supposed to be ludicrous but in doing that you expect some tongue-in-cheek Evil dead type humour – it was painfully laugh free and the reason why I then had a problem with the concept of the film is that it does start treating itself pretty seriously and isn’t the fun, silly rollercoaster ride you portray it as here.

      • filmfellajames says:

        Darren.

        You make some good points, I like your pep and fervour for the cause, Mr Licoln would be proud. I am also personally glad that you found my remarks to be patronising and hopefully insulting, Darren I hope you were really offended. That was my master plan from the very beginning.

        The problem is Darren, not everyone sets limits or constraints on fun. Some of us prefer to just go weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. It’s fun, it’s our freedom. Darren, it’s ok to be angered by this film, feeling is good, a valuable outlet but, the point here is to be ever diligent in seeking out merits instead of flaws, the world has enough flaws. We need more joy, to laugh. You and I don’t share opinion on film all too often. You probably think I’m a mug who guns of the most unworthy kak. I similarly may think your a pontificating ass monkey with an x men like power to render any mortal sleepy by attacking with a ballet of critical prose.
        But for some reason, you and I react the exact same way to movies. We swallow it too fast, we choke. We get some in our lungs, we drown. However unreal it may seem, we are connected, you and I. We’re on the same curve, just on opposite ends.

        Further, it was my quest, long ago, to seek a Darren like you out for ridicule.
        Now that we know who you are, you have made your voice quite clear… I know who I am. I’m not a mistake! It all makes sense. In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch-villain’s going to be? He’s the exact opposite of the hero, and most time’s they’re friends, like you and me. I should’ve known way back when. You know why, Darren? Because of the kids. They called me “that guy who don’t take no shit.”

        I love you Darren, I miss you and I’m proud that your making a difference in Taiwan. Miss you. Hugs and kisses.

        FilmfellaJim. XoooOOXxx0.

      • filmfellajames says:

        Corrections: *Lincoln*
        *guns for*

        Auto type? #unsatisfying.

        Yo

  3. Filmfella Darren says:

    Well you out-right state here that you think I’m a pontificating ass-monkey, imply that I send people to sleep with my reviews and then go on to speculate what I think of you. Have I written anywhere in this post what I think of you? Have I at all made this personal? Ok – cards on the table then – since you are trying to drag out of me what I think of you. I do think you are very forgiving of absolute shit sometimes. On some level I do admire that you do speak your mind – so even if you like some generic piece of crap and everyone hates it, you will be happy to proclaim how unbelievable it is whilst lesser personalities would probably be embarrassed they liked such clag. I do at times think you do it for effect – like you really want to like something that is universally reviled just to show how different you are, in the mistaken belief it makes you edgy or cool. I’m thinking of your inexplicable love for John Carpenters Ghosts of Mars. I’m not how you portray me though, like an entertainment Nazi, intent on exterminating all things that are fun and frivolous in cinema. Contrary to what you may think, my reviews are not full of pompous pontificating. I actually think I have a good sense of humour and I try to make the reviews as light and amusing as possible. I do think you are a big character, and have a way with words and I miss sparring with you verbally at poker games and such since you are a strong personality who isn’t afraid to go up against me and disagree with me and I’m also a strong personality willing to disagree with you. You intimidate a lot of people with your alpha-male style and verbal conviction in what you say – but you don’t intimidate me. I’m not afraid to disagree with you. I’ve always felt that cinema is subjective – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure is definitely true of cinema. I like variation of opinion and I don’t expect people to always agree with me. I often disagree with Henry – we recently had opposing views of Iron sky, Henry challenges me on my opinions frequently and I challenge him too and often we end up seeing each others points and it rarely gets personal. I will say that it made me smile that you think I’ve lost touch with my inner child and I don’t know how to let go and go weeeeee! – as you put it. I go weeeeeeee! For a fucking living mate. My inner child is on the pay-role. From 9-12 every week day, I whirl around liking a fucking whirling dervish for the course of making 3-4 year olds motivated to learn English. They speak English everyday because of my ability to tap into my inner child and make up games and activities to amuse them. Today I’ll be making beach pictures out of real sand and sticky back plastic like a Blue Peter presenter – I absolutely love working with children – it’s at least 50% of the reason I’ve stayed in Asia for two years. You’d be surprised at how often I tap into my inner child. I do think there are lots of sides to me that you don’t know. Back to film, sort of – it may surprise you to know that I will be back in Wales August 4th. I intend to come along to poker games and film nights for the two and a half weeks I am back, and I want you there. I would also like to go up against you in a podcast. You definitely bring something to the table on those casts, you can think on your feet – and come up with a swift response even if you are full of shit some of the time. I know you secretly relish the chance to make me look like a clown on audio – albeit a fun despising clown I guess. You frame us as adversaries in your last post – so who do you see as the villain and who do you see as the hero out of us two then? You seem to be implying that I am the villain and you are the hero. Filmfella Darren.

    • filmfellajames says:

      Re: your previous “sleepy” post.

      Darren.

      Thanks for the lengthy reply. I was having trouble getting off to sleep, till you replied, then you saved the day, I slept soundly after that. Bravo Darren, bravo. Who is the hero? Well clearly you Darren, after all your a hero on the pay role, a hero with a sense of humour, hidden in the complex tapestry of your prose, a hero never afraid to be challenged, by me, or Henry as it seems. You made it clear, your the man Darren. The kids must love you. Do you have a Super Darren T-shirt for me? You could bring it for me when you visit us next month for the “podcast showdown”.

      I never, out-right stated anything, it said “similarly I may…”
      This is not an out-right statement at all, that would look like this…”For the record Darren, your a knob” for example or…”The first TONKA truck was made in 1947.”. Either way you cut it, your a knob. But, herein lies the truth, I may use my voice to champion what you think is absolute shit or ‘clag’ but that doesn’t mean I’m trying to be cool or edgy, the villain Darren, does not try, he simply is, after all, how else would he really get the Heroes attention? A hero likes to be the one whose voice is championed, the villains voice usually mocked and insulted prior to fisticuffs. I believe therefore that since you have once again missed my point let me make it clear in the next paragraph…

      Who made you the hero? Who decided that your specifically subjective opinion on a movie is the right one, mine the wrong one? What makes you soooooooo special that you can destroy another man/woman’s work with a vicious attack of criticism because of your opinion where others must clearly be buffoons for liking that which you do not? A hero is less forgiving of these things because a hero thinks or believes he is better, a villain does not necessarily think this way, he usually has something wrong with him which makes him more likely to embrace the outcasts. But…you underestimate this villain, you underestimate me, for if I have taken a deliberate stance in opposition, maybe it’s because i serve a greater purpose. One not bound by my own opinion, instead, championing others who oppose the likes of you, because I see merit in it.

      Who am I? Darren, I am the villain, after all I like Ghosts of Mars. All villains do. We regularly watch it at Villain Club.

      I look forward to seeing you Darren. But, bring your A game, you will need it. I’m good at the ‘fisticuffs’ stuff.

      Peace and love…FilmfellaJames.

      Yo

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