Synopsis: Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them.
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith
Stars: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell and Dominic Cooper
Being a fan of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel, I was eager to see the film adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. With Grahame-Smith in charge of the screenplay and Timur Bekmambetov directing, I was anticipating something dark, atmospheric, and visually appealing, with a few snarky bits of humor thrown in and that’s exactly what I got. No, this is not Oscar material and I’m sure history purists will find plenty of scenes with which to take issue, but that’s not the point. This movie is straight-up summer fun, though it does touch on some universal themes.
The screenplay follows the novel as closely as any movie can, with the exception of the ending. Without spoiling either the movie or the book, I can say that the end of the movie is very, very different. I loved the ending of the book, and there are some lines in the movie that led me to believe the movie was going to end the same way, but it did not. I’m sure partly this was done for time, but the movie’s ending works well on screen. Some people are already speculating about a possible sequel, but Grahame-Smith has denied this is the plan.
Visually, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is a treat. Spectacular sets, horse chases, sprawling battle scenes, DC in the 1800s, and an epic train heist make this movie like dessert for the eyes. There is a great scene near the end where the audience is looking out from the porch of the White House in the 1865 and we watch the scenery in fast forward to the present day, it’s brilliant and beautiful. The costumes are fantastic and help to shape the characters. Lighting plays a key role in the film which is largely dark and dismal, adding an air of mystery and tension. Adding to the tension and drama was an incredible score by Henry Jackman. Beautiful, tense, and atmospheric the score set the tone for the film without distracting from it.
The casting was spot-on. Benjamin Walker’s portrayal of a rugged, idealistic, passionate Lincoln makes him a the perfect protagonist. Having lost so many people he cares about, it makes sense Lincoln would look for someone or something to blame, and Walker’s performance will win over audiences. I loved Dominic Cooper’s role as Henry Sturgess, a complex character, to say the least. Initially, Henry seems to be not more than a womanizing git who loves drinking and fighting–we soon learn there is much, much more to him and his character is at the center of the movie’s plot. Anthony Mackie is great in the role of childhood friend and trusted advisor, Will Johnson. Abe trusts Will unconditionally; indeed, it is an altercation Abe views between Will and a slave trader that sets his mind on the importance of freedom for all men.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a great summer escape movie–entirely different from most current Hollywood offerings. I’d recommend it to fans of historical fiction, action, and vampire movies.