‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ Balances Silliness with Epic Action

by Eric Melin on June 22, 2012

in Reviews,Video Reviews

This review originally appeared in shorter form on KSNT-NBC, KTKA-ABC, and KTMJ-FOX, Kansas First News.

Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited biopic of Abraham Lincoln is due this Christmas, but this weekend moviegoers will get a very different take on our 16th President.

If you’ve ever wanted to see Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) fight a blood-sucking vampire in 3D while twirling an axe on the backs of a full-on horse stampede, this is your movie.

Action movies are known for being over the top, and more than any film in a long while, it’s hard to fault Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for having unrealistic action scenes. As you can probably tell by the title, this is not a movie that’s interested in depicting reality.

No, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter revels in its fraudulence, wearing it proudly. In this movie—based off of the book by Seth Grahame-Smith who also wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies—the South is full of slave-owning vampires who start the Civil War as part of a plot to take control of the country.

There are two reasons why this ridiculous R-rated action/horror movie with zero high-minded aspirations works. First, the actors play it completely straight and they let the mashup of history and mythology be its own joke.

Secondly, director Timur Bekmambetov outdoes himself with some truly jaw-dropping action set pieces. Besides the vampire attacks being particularly violent and sometimes pretty scary, there are no limits to the amount of slo-mo choreographed mayhem and near-misses onscreen. It’s like the actors and props are part of an elaborate Rube Goldberg contraption, held together with duct tape and CGI. Bekmambetov not only stages these scenes with flair, but they’re easy to follow — a nice break from the shakycam of more “serious” action films.

On the downside, the movie is a little long to support its creaky premise and it features some pretty rote setups — like the inevitable training montage, where master vampire hunter Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper) shows Abe how its done. Even then, it’s kind of a gas to see Lincoln pouring silver on his axe.

Usually I applaud movies that don’t use 3D as a gimmick, but since this whole film is a gimmick, it’s tough to complain.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 warren-j June 22, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Can’t wait, can’t wait, can’t wait. I have one thing on my agenda for this weekend, and it is to see this film (hopefully twice).

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2 Jimmyrhall June 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I’m on my way to see the matinee, I’ll give my thoughts after.

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3 Jimmyrhall June 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm

So, I think I’ll give it a pass since I think it accomplished what it set out to do. Of course the premise is ridiculous, so you can’t expect a high minded movie from it. The thing is that I want to give it more credit for being smart for meshing history in but I can’t because I don’t know if it does because I’m not a history buff. I did enjoy the cinematography, its style, and the actors (no huge name star power to carry audiences into the theater but they worked well) and the action scene were entertaining enough to hold my attention. My main complaint would be that the didn’t flesh itself out as much as it should have; I didn’t know the main conflict until 3/4 through. Other than that, extremely well-made movie.

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4 Eric Melin June 24, 2012 at 11:09 am

Agreed. Hey, luckily for us, we have our own history expert, Warren Cantrell, to supply us with a post about historical context/references–it’s on its way soon!

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5 Jimmyrhall June 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm

That will be a very interesting read. Looking forward to it!

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