Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter</strong> (2012)

(On-demand Video, December 2012) I’m a forgiving fan of big dumb action movies, but there’s something just off in the way Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is handled.  The one-joke premise (fully encapsulated in the title) is so outrageous that the only way to do it justice is to fully indulge in the madness: make it big, make it outrageous, make it as demented as possible.  Indeed, the two best sequences of the film are those in which writer Seth Grahame-Smith (who adapted his own rather more serious eponymous novel) allows himself to go as over-the-top as possible: Flinging horses and jumping away from collapsing bridges are exactly what I expect of a film titled Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.  Unfortunately, the script calls for the rest of the film to be ponderous and reverential to the Lincoln mythos.  This makes the end result feel far too heavy for its own sake and possibly insulting to the real-life history of slavery.  Where is the fun?  Where is the action?  By trying to stand half-way between the historical record and the craziness of its ultra-contemporary premise, director Timur Bekmambetov (who’s capable of much better) ends up sabotaging the impact of his own project.  At a time where campy irony is justifiably decried, I feel bad about calling for more of it… but the best moments of the film only highlight what it most missed.  Fortunately, most of the actors do good work: Benjamin Walker is just fine as Lincoln (some camera angles late in the film make him look like Liam Neeson) and Rufus Sewell seems to have a lot of fun playing the antagonist.  Aside from the stampede sequence and the train finale, through, there really isn’t much to Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter: the script is inconsistent, the dialogues are perfunctory and the pacing is slow enough to make anyone long for the next burst of madness.  Unlike other reviewers, I had some hopes for the film.  Alas, I can only register my disappointment.

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