President by day, vampire hunter by night, believe it or not I’m referring to our beloved and most admired President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, the father of our nation. Until every man is free, we are all slaves. We do tend to learn about the man, the husband, the President in this film but vampire hunter! People don’t take this story as a bio picture, unless you really believe in vampires!
The year is 1818 in Pigeon Creek, Indiana, Nancy Hanks Lincoln (Robin McLeavy) has died and young Abraham (Lux Haney-Jardine) has seen the man responsible for her death. Nine years later, Abraham’s father, Thomas (Joseph Mawle) has died, leaving a matured Abraham (Benjamin Walker) the need for vengeance against the man who killed his mother, Jack Barts (Marton Csokas). I am a bit uncertain about Walker and his acting abilities, he definitely looked the part of Lincoln and for sure was able to perform the action scenes well but for some reason maybe not all his he never really seemed to make me convinced of his action hero status. Could have been the fact that it was President Lincoln, the man who freed slaves, known as one of the, if not thee, most admired President in history is a vampire hunter. A bit hokey plot line to try and move past but thankfully the scenes are action packed with incredible special effects.
Having a drink at the local pub before he fulfills his deed Abraham meets a strange man by the name of Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper) moments later their paths cross once again and their relationship is forever bound, thanks to Henry saving Lincoln’s life. They soon bond together to fight vampires with Henry showing Abraham a few techniques in order to survive the battle. You see Henry has his reasons as well for battling Adam (Rufus Sewell), Vadoma (Erin Wasson) and their band of scary vampires. Before making another attempt to kill Jack, Henry has Abraham move to Springfield, now the year 1837; he takes a job at a local store working for Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson) who later becomes a friend and follower of Abraham’s. Several bloody battles later, a friend from the past, Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie), and a romance with Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Abraham finally gets his wish to kill Jack. Their battle is absolutely amazing as they fight to a bitter end amongst a herd of stampeding horses. This as well as many other scenes in the film has some great use of the 3D effects that will surely satisfy the audiences taste for visual pleasures, which are plentiful in this film. Just too bad that the acting was a bit off, the story line was odd, and the visual of Abraham wielding a silver ax, killing vampires was a bit overwhelming.
When Will becomes a captive of Adam and his clan of vampires, Abraham confides everything to Speed, whereas soon thereafter they are headed to attend a ball at Adam’s home in New Orleans and hopefully rescue Will. Soon Abraham decides to give up his ax and continue his fight with words as he moves up the political ladder and eventually into war in Fort Sumter, 1861. The 50 year old Lincoln is now married to Mary; they have a son, Willie (Cameron M. Brown) and are living in the White House. There were some pretty cool present day and old day shots of Washington DC that will definitely make one appreciate the architecture of so many years ago.
When once again the vampires have entered his life, Abraham has taken his ax out of retirement with the sole intent to kill many vampires and their need to become recognized and take over the country. Only a living person can kill the dead and that’s exactly Abraham’s intention during the battle of Gettysburg, who would have thought it was front lined by blood thirsty vampires? The only way to stop them was with silver. One problem, the vampires know Abraham’s plan and are out to stop the train carrying the silver before it reaches its destination. In turn, the ultimate battle between man and beast ensues. Oddly enough it was like watching a moment from “Batman and Robin” hence Lincoln and Johnson against the vampire villain leader Adam. Thankfully Abraham had a contingency plan when needed. All men are created equal but in time some just get smarter as they get older.
Lincoln once said, “History prefers legends to men. It prefers nobility to brutality, soaring speeches to wild deeds. History remembers the battle, but forgets the blood. However history remembers me before I was a President, it shall only remember a fraction of the truth…” Even though I am a huge horror fan, all in all the action and special effects in this film are brilliant but the story was just off base for me, barely making it to second base. Like I said Walker surely looks the part but he just seemed a bit amateurish at times in some of his dialogue, could have been the writing too, although he pulled off the action. The costumes and photography are very well done but the makeup became a bit too noticeable especially on Abraham. Cooper was close to my favorite, reminding me of a knock off of Robert Downey Jr. Mackie was the ideal sidekick to Walker, always there when he needed him as was Simpson, who also does a nice job and reminded me of the butler role in the Batman films. All the characters complimented each other as much as any other super-hero film but this film incorporates fact with fiction. Sewell and his band of merry vampires all did a nice job as does Wasson, as she adds a bit of her own sex appeal to her character. Overall in the end the action kept my attention to where the story of Lincoln as a vampire hunter did not so much. Written and enjoyed for the action and effects with one and a half paws out of four by Jon Patch.