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In this fantasy action adventure, the Great Emancipator is re-imagined as an ax-wielding slayer of the undead in the uneven film, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Based on Seth Grahame Smith’s mashup novel of the same name, he introduces us to a young alternate version of “Honest Abe” who witnesses an vindictive overseer, Jack Barts (Marton Csokas), murder his mom.
Swearing vengeance, the distraught Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) gets his opportunity to exact revenge but he soon discovers that it’s not so easy to kill something that is already dead. Just as he was about to meet his end, a mysterious stranger, Henry (Dominic Cooper) saves his life and introduces him to the world of vampire hunting teaching him the skills to put them down.
With his training complete and after agreeing only to kill vampires from Henry’s list, Abe relocates to Illinois, working in the shop of his new friend, Speed (Jimmi Simpson) and begins dispatching the undead with the quickness. His work places him on the radar of the strongest vampire in the New World, Adam (Rufus Sewell) and his female lieutenant, Vadoma (Erin Wasson) who are preparing a trap to ensnare the slayer. Also disregarding Henry’s advice not to make any personal connections, Lincoln falls in love with Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and reconnects with his childhood friend, William (Anthony Mackie). Enticed by politics, Lincoln discovers a different way to fight, not with his mighty ax but with words . . . which put him on the path to the presidency.
Working from such an outlandish premise, director Timur Bekmambetov (Daywatch, Nightwatch and Wanted) and producer Tim Burton infuse this story with a plethora of special effects and slo-mo shots of people flying through the air, ax’s slicing through unwilling victims and the usual chaos and mayhem that are interesting at the beginning but soon become repetitive. Smith’s script even incorporates the Underground Railroad and the important role of slaves into the story. After a solid set-up, the story comes apart like a ball of yarn the longer it’s on the screen – until you’re left with little or nothing.
A couple of years ago, Quentin Tarantino flipped the script showing a group of Jews who terrorize the Third Reich in Inglorious Bastards and soon will do the same with slaves and slave owners in Django Unchained. Always in search of content, this Hollywood movement of re-imagination is the new sequel – and that’s not good!