Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Cast: Benjamin Walker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anthony Mackie, Marton Csokas, Jimmi Simpson, Rufus Sewell, Erin Wasson and Dominic Cooper
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Screenplay: Seth Grahame-Smith (based on his novel)
Time: 105 mins
Rating:  *  *  1/2 (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: From the title, it is obvious that this is NOT the Abe Lincoln that we know from the history books. The curiosity factors aroused by this film (helmed by Timur Bekmambetov of Wanted {2008} and Daywatch {2006} fame) are how creatively the film-makers are going to 'bastardise' American history, and the set action pieces that Bekmambetov and his crew have set up.

The answer: They are impressive but a bit ludicrous.

SYNOPSIS: Adapted from the book by Seth Grahame-Smith (who also wrote the screenplay), the film chronicles the loss of Abe’s mother (Robin MacLeavy) at the hands of a vampire when Abe is still a child. This serves as the motivating factor for Abe's (Benjamin Walker) subsequent vampire hunting mission and his burgeoning career as a lawyer and politician to, finally, his Presidency during the Civil War. Along the way, he kills countless bloodsuckers led by the vile and vicious Adam (Rufus Sewell) as part of his secret war against the undead.

Anthony Mackie and Benjamin Walker as Will Johnson and Abe Lincoln

HITS & MISSES: The movie is obviously a mix of biopic and horror flick but it fails at both, and ends up being an expensive action film. This is evident in the story which has Abe weilding an axe against the marauding vampires instead of guns with silver bullets. With the axe, we get blood splashes and dramatic combat action - the sort of targets Bekmambetov usually aims for. Still, two of his set pieces stand out: a rodeo-styled chase during a horse stampede, and a climactic fight on a runaway train speeding across a burning bridge.

I am not really a fan of the main vampire plot which borders on the ridiculous but Grahame-Smith provides a few interesting and absorbing subplots, namely the relationship between Abe and his wife Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, left). There is chemistry between Walker and Winstead that makes us care about and believe in this absurd version of the First Couple. Also, Walker, who looks like a young Liam Neeson (he has played the younger version of Neeson’s title character in Kinsey), exudes the simple and honest charm one normally associates with Abe Lincoln. Hence, bravo to the casting department.

On the minus side, the anti-slavery subplot and his rise to the Presidency are given the short shrift; and the man-vs-vampire clashes are so absurd that we are constantly reminded that this is revisionist pulp fiction trying to get on the bandwagon of Twilight's popularity.

THE LOWDOWN: For those who like their gore topped up with the quaint.


Post a Comment

<< Home