Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter * * 1/2

Genre: Action

Director: Timur Bekmambetov

Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith, based on his novel of the same name

Cast: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell, Marton Csokas, Jimmi Simpson

Running Length: 105 minutes

Synopsis: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter explores the secret life of one of the U.S.’s greatest presidents, and the untold story that shaped that country. Producer Tim Burton and director Timur Bekmambetov reimagine Lincoln as one of history’s greatest hunters of the undead.

Review: Given the names of the visionaries that are backing Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, it’s truly a surprise that the end result is such a middling movie. It’s almost as though producer Tim Burton and director Timur Bekmambetov (Daywatch, Wanted) couldn’t make up their mind whether the subject matter functions better as a satire or a straight up horror/action film, and the eventual execution, whilst perfectly serviceable, lacks the qualities to be memorable in any way.

One would assume that with a concept of turning the president of the USA into a vampire hunter, the film would be quite “out there”, but the tone is far more serious than it should be. The first half of the movie is the better half, with the “origins story” of how Abraham Lincoln becomes an axe-wielding vampire slayer, but once the narrative moves toward marrying fact (Abraham Lincoln: President) and fiction (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), it starts to falter.

It doesn’t help that the vampire hunter premise already feels tired after the first two reels, and becomes multiple variations on the same (old) theme. The acting is pretty much mediocre throughout, with Benjamin Walker being the biggest offender – he has absolutely no charisma as Abe, and when the film ages him with somewhat dodgy makeup, it becomes even harder to look past his subpar acting chops.

With Bekmambetov helming the camera, it’s almost a given that the visuals will be impressive, and for the most part they are (although the 3D implementation feels half-baked). In fact, if not for the great action set-piece near the end, involving a train heist, hand to hand combat and a burning bridge, the second half of the movie would have been pretty much a downer.  This becomes one of the few redeeming points of the movie – but whether it’s enough to justify the price of entry would depend on one’s threshold for the chaff that makes up the remainder of the film.

Rating: * * ½ (out of four stars)

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