I have only walked out of three films in my life: Indian in the Cupboard, Lost in Space and Space Jam. As I schlepped through the scenes of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, I was reminded why I walked out of those films.
The characters that infest this rewritten Civil War epic are completely lacking in deeper quality and are as interesting as they are in the dull history textbooks. The action sequences are old news. They were cool in The Matrix and 300, but now they are overused and seem to dominate the modern vampire film. And as for he plot, it is just riddled with major time and story gaps that leave you guessing about what the hell just happened.
The time element is as confusing as the plot is ordinary. The film essentially provides a biographical look in the rise of President Abraham Lincoln (played by Benjamin Walker) during and how, in whatever spare time he had, managed to be a famous vampire killer.
As a young boy, Lincoln’s family was broken up when his mother was murdered by a vampire. Swearing vengeance upon this blood-sucker, Lincoln manages to open a can of worms and eventually jeopardizes everyone affiliated with him. Those people include his mentor Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper), childhood friend Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie), and wife Mary Todd Lincoln (played by the much more attractive, based on historical photos of Lincoln’s wife, Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
These vampires are under the control of a megalomaniac called Adam (Rufus Sewell), a character so forgettable he only needs one name. His main goal is to turn the entire world into the walking dead. Isn’t that the goal of every villainous leader?
What was most disappointing, was director Timur Bekmambetov‘s (Wanted) lack of transitions and a logical chronology of events. When the scenes ended, we would enter some new place at a new time and with new characters. For example, in one scene, Lincoln is a frustrated and angry boy, in the next he is a seasoned hunter with the strength of chopping down whole trees in one swing. He then shifts, in a matter of minutes, to a daytime grocer, nighttime vampire hunter, lawyer, politician and finally the president.
To make up for these poor transitions, I assumed, as the title states, the fighting sequences and the vampire battles would be epic. But they were average and already seen in other modern vampire films. Unlike mainstream vampires, such as characters from HBO’s True Blood, these guys actually change physical appearance. Instead of just a pop of the old fangs, we get these hideous ghouls with superhuman strength and razor-sharp teeth. Again, something that we have seen in films like Van Helsing and the Blade series.
Around the one hour mark, the film takes a turn for the worse. That same vengeance felt by younger Lincoln is reignited when the same vampires that attached his mother, strike his new family. The film essentially restarts itself. The only problem, it has 40 minutes remaining. So it could either wrap things up quickly and just add some filler at the end, or it could take its time and actually include transitions that help the plot make sense.
In fact, the plot progresses into the Civil War instead. For history buff, you will quite displeased. Instead of the North versus the South, it is the living against the dead. The battle scenes are decent, but they are filled with these slow-motion shots with bits of shrapnel and chucks of Earth floating through a pinkish-mist of gore. Again, the director attempts to make something amazing with an ordinary and, at times, very foolish piece.
Leaving the details out of the ending, it is implied that their could be another one of these films.