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THE DAILY UPDATE AT THE MOVIES: ABRAHAM LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER

Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov

Starring: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell, Marton Csokas

I’ll be the first to admit that going by the title this film sounds ridiculous. However, it would be a real shame if you let that put you off as this is a surprisingly fun offering that is very well executed and, strangely, makes more sense than you would think.

Starring Meryl Streep’s son-in-law, Benjamin Walker as the titular Lincoln, this is based on the best selling book of the same name by author Seth Grahame-Smith (who also wrote the mind bogglingly brilliant Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). It tells the story of the secret life of Abraham Lincoln who, aside from being one of the United States’ most renowned presidents, was also a vampire hunter.  His obsession with killing the undead creatures begins after his mother is murdered by one when he is a child.

As a grown man he hunts down the vampire responsible for his mother’s death and as he prepares to kill him he meets a man called Henry Sturgess, a fellow vampire hater, who takes him under his wing and trains him to kill the evil creatures.

As a young Abraham comes to grips with a job in a General Store and pursues romance with Mary Todd (Winstead), who will eventually become his wife, Sturgess sends him details of the locations of various vampires whom Abraham subsequently killed.

When he discovers that Henry is himself a vampire he is torn and his loyalties are divided. Putting aside the axe that he has used to hunt the creatures, he focuses all his energies on a political career but soon learns that vampires have long memories as they refuse to let him away with the slaughter of their kind. Realising that vampires in the South are buying slaves to use as food, Abraham realises that in order to rid his beloved country of the scourge of the bloodsuckers he must implement a war between North and South which will abolish slavery, but obviously the vampires aren’t happy about this and the result is one final epic showdown.

Believe it or not this isn’t as far fetched as you would think. By adhering closely to Lincoln’s actual timeline and taking only minimal artistic licence on certain historical facts the story strangely starts to seem rather plausible! This is helped by a great performance from Walker, who brings a gravitas to the character that could so easily have been missing in a lesser actor’s hands. West is excellent as Henry Sturgess, playing just the right balance of sinister and sincere, while Rufus Sewell as Adam, Lincoln’s ultimate vampire nemesis, is truly hypnotic and creepy.

They have changed a few things from the book but on the whole this is true to the tone and ethos of the novel. The action sequences are brilliantly done and the 3D is used to great effect. After years of seeing sexy and likeable vampires on screen it is nice to have a film reinforce their pure evilness and the vampires here are truly nasty pieces of work.

I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed this. It isn’t an historical epic – it is a bit of fun, nothing more and nothing less. However, it also happens to be very engaging and from around 20 minutes in you forget how ridiculous the idea of the future president of the United States slaying vampires is and find yourself caught up in the action. If you’re looking for an action movie with thrills and spills then, surprisingly, this is it.

 

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