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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

This film didn’t require a president to be at the centre of it,but it doesn’t hurt to have one.

Written by Shalini Langer | New Delhi |
July 14, 2012 10:38:17 am

Cast:Benjamin Walker,Dominic Cooper,Rufus Sewell,Anthony Mackie,Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Director:Timur Bekmambetov

Indian Express Ratings:***

It is tempting to imagine one of America’s greatest presidents as a caped superhero of sorts. It must also be satisfying to conceive the American Southerners fighting to retain their slaves as blood-suckers. It must be especially gratifying to combine the two in a film that is only quasi-history but a bona fide thriller,where you will be laughing at the famous Lincoln beard that Benjamin Walker comes to sport but not mind too much that the 50-plus president survives an inferno,sprightly jumping from one burning train coach to another. If it gives director Bekmambetov and screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith a chance to delve into vampires again,all the more better — after all,this brand of monsters is enjoying a long and unusual moment in the sun.

Grahame-Smith also wrote the book the film is based on,and the duo know their vampires well,enough to realise that rules can be dizzyingly bent from one movie to another when it comes to these creatures of the night. In this film,sunlight neither sets them burning nor glittering,but silver is an absolute no-no — something to do with Judas.

The young Abe Lincoln decides to go after vampires when his mother is killed by one. He really doesn’t know how to go about it till one night a vampire hunter (a wasted Cooper) fortuitously slips into a bar stool besides him. By the time he is trained,Lincoln (Walker) is the kind of axe-wielding warrior the movies have come to love post-Matrix— you never know what’s happening in a fight.

Bekmambetov does pull that part off nicely,especially a clash amid galloping horses and swirling red dust,which is unlike anything one has seen before. In comparison,the climax with the burning train almost disappoints.

Now for the Lincoln part. Of course,this film didn’t require a president to be at the centre of it,but it doesn’t hurt to have one,especially when the Southerners shown here literally feasting on their slaves can be trusted to keep their guilty silence. From the death of his mother to that of his son,which are passed off as vampire ‘kills’,the film briskly touches upon all the milestones of Abe’s political rise. Walker is efficient enough in the parts that require him to swing an axe,while the film is not interested enough in the part of Lincoln’s life that required him to swing the votes.

With a few “meaningful” quotes thrown in — “None of us is free till one of us is a slave” to “We are all slaves to something” —Abraham Lincoln does but lip-service to the cause the president actually lost his life to. But then the film makes no bones about “freedom for all men” being its cause. Just slo-mo killing of some.

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