Abe Lincoln vampire flick chokes
Put inventive, artsy Tim Burton in a producer’s chair. Add the current hot topic of female empowerment. For better or worse, allow 3D stereotypical “coming at you” stretches to blend with more epic landscapes. Go against the current crop of “friendly” vampire portrayals by reverting to Tarantino-style blood splatter fests.
The result? “National Treasure” reimagined fictional history smelted into “Sweeney Todd” and “Wild Wild West.” A bloodletting “dinner is served” as a young Abraham Lincoln (played by Benjamin Walker) hunts the undead slinging a silver axe.
Excluding some latent political hyperbole, “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” devotes a groggy 50 percent of its run time setting up the concept and characters. Even the sharp objects plunging at you cannot save literally 33 to 50 percent of the flick. (Don’t believe me? Count the exceptional numbers leaving for a popcorn break.)
Russian vampire franchise director, Timur Bekmambetov inserts the fast paced swashbuckling action that earned him plaudits for “Wanted,” starring James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie, thus resurrecting detached viewers into rooting for the triumph of good versus evil as embodied in the War Between the States.
Here’s a brief setup: Young Abe’s parents fall victim to vampires instilling a vengeance mission in the young man’s genes. After due consideration that his mom and dad died at the hands of a cult of vampires, he flip flops on a promise to remain detached from relationships in order to gain chop-socky axe acrobatic training a la Sarah Michelle Gellar in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
After maturing and becoming an attorney in Illinois, his speech and political charisma emerge resulting in him following the real history protocol as a “contingency plan” in case the slaughtering night monsters thing doesn’t work out.
After the hideous snouts, shredding molars, and morphing bloody cranial cavities become routine, the atmospheric mood adds an absorbing locomotive chase and train top hand-to-hand combat with Mary Todd Lincoln’s (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) heroic persona, which carries into the men and women of the freed slave communities.
There is serious action and plenty of jugular draining scenes to lure thrill seeking, feel-good viewers into an Indiana Jones-esque romp; however the film fails to include enough camp, humor and mocking of itself.
Midway into this flick, I asked ‘why invoke a fictional persona of Abraham Lincoln?’
Hollywood loves importing historic mythology to save precious words and deeds from imparting character traits. “Lincoln” eventually makes more sense as the North and South emerge with an allied vampire colony assisting the Confederates. Laugh it off, but do the living deserve the same equalities and rights as the “undead” immortal blood drinking vampires?
Abe the Vampire Slayer, er, killer, fares miserably compared to, for instance, the 21st Century updating of “Snow White & the Huntsman.” You’ll either forgive the overly self-serious nature or you’ll violently shake your head at the historical disgrace.
To mention the “Hatfields and McCoys” in the same review demotes sacrilege. I do it to underscore that “Vampire Hunter” will be dismissed as too bizarre. Remember, it’s summer, after the first hour, it’s nothing but an exciting diversion.