“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” absurdly reimagines the historical figure into a butt-kicking, monster-slaying action hero, but the absurdity is quite tolerable and sometimes, even entertaining. It does, however,get tedious when focusing on the American president’s historical milestones.
Charismatic Benjamin Walker’s translation of Abraham Lincoln eases the viewer into this more kinetic, fantasy-oriented version of
America’s past; we get to see the young Abe as idealistic but not exactly the honed political figure yet, although he eventually undergoes the transformation. Revenge-driven, he musters up the courage to hunt down and face a vampire that attacked his home when he was a boy.
Abraham is trained and recruited by a professional vampire hunter, Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), who assigns the extermination of disguised targets at human-populated locations. This uneasy alliance will last long after Abraham pursues other interests. Meanwhile, a vampire leader from
New Orleans, Adam (Rufus Sewell), plots the downfall of the chaos-besieged nation.
It actually isn’t hard to get into it; director Timur Bekmambetov tells the story clearly, and original author Seth Grahame-Smith is the film’s screenwriter. The less-than-complex vampire mythology introduced in “Abraham Lincoln” mostly borrows from established monster myths, but is easy to accept and suspend disbelief over.
While the slow pace gets pretty uncomfortable around the last half-hour, “Abraham Lincoln” has its share of respectable vampire-hunting action sequences, including a horse chase and confrontations in a train and on the battlefield. The film could’ve been so much more, but this simple experimentation still amuses during those few, really clever moments that connect facts to fantasy.