This movie faces a few problems. One of them is that it isn’t very good. Another is the assumptions people will make about it. I have found that when it comes to movies people tend to assume a movie will be like “this” or like “that” based on the previews or the title. If these expectations aren’t met people don’t like the movie whether it is actually good or bad. Half of the people going to the theater are thinking, “Nice! A ridiculous over the top action movie…with Abe freaking Lincoln!” (This was me). The other half are thinking, “Ooooh vampires! I love vampires, like that one time when Edward was trying to save Bella.” No…just no. About ten years ago, before Teen Paranormal Romance was a section at Barnes and Noble (I’m not making this up), vampires were blood thirsty killing machines that didn’t sparkle in the sun, or fall in love with humans. This movie understands that. Unfortunately though, for both parties entering the theater, neither expectation will be met.
I give the movie two stars. One for a solid opening and exposition, the other for a surprisingly strong finish. Unfortunately during the hour in the middle it got confused. The middle of the movie was a fairly boring mess that couldn’t decide what kind of movie it wanted to be. It had tones of super hero movie, action movie, period piece, war movie, and old school monster movie, all with very dark tones. It was too much and none of it was done all that well. It just never came together for me.
As I said before, the movie does start pretty strong. A young Abe Lincoln is introduced to vampires at a young age when one attacks his family. As he grows older he makes it his mission to destroy vampires, mostly out of vengeance. He then meets an interesting man who is willing to teach him how to hunt, fight, and kill, these monsters. The training then commences he learns how the handle a silver axe like a champ and is given several hunting assignments. These hunting scenes are all fairly entertaining and actually quite bloody (remember, it’s a VAMPIRE movie). After this the movie loses its way a little. They start to create the larger threat of vampires, and incorporate vampires with the actual story of slavery. The movie gets bigger at this point and Abe is given his real foe, Adam the vampire (yeah…I didn’t think it sounded very sinister either). Here it was slow and clunky and boring. Then all of a sudden we got to a climactic finish on a train, which brought my attention back in. The best action, dialogue, and story takes place here. I don’t want to spoil much else so I’ll leave it at that.
All of the actors played their parts well, but none of the performances were overly memorable. Benjamin Walker was solid as Abe Lincoln, but didn’t really have to learn his intricacies as is the case in a lot of biographical movies. This is because it’s not actually a biography. Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, and Jimmi Simpson were all ok as Abe’s friends, even if their roles were a bit predictable. Rounding out the cast were Mary Elizabeth Winston and Rufus Sewell who like the rest were just Ok. The visuals steal the show from the actors, but even some of the cool visuals seemed forced into the movie rather than actually have a rhyme or reason.
Overall the movie was just OK. It wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t that good either. I think it tried to be a little too ambitious and take itself a little too seriously, which didn’t work here. The idea, and title, are cooler than the actual film. If I was you I would wait until they show it on Presidents Day on TV next year.