If you were to get in a car and drive southeast for about three hours, you'd arrive at a magical place: the birthplace of one of our nation's greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln. He came into this world in a log cabin in 1809, and grew up to become the 16th president of the United States, during which he drafted the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. It was a bloody time in our nation's history: the North and the South turned against each other, fiercely divided on many issues, not least of which was that of slavery. Now, history would have us believe that the issue was one of economics combined with racism... but Timur Bekmambetov and Seth Grahame-Smith have a different story to tell. “However history remembers me before I was a president,” said Lincoln, “it shall only remember a fraction of the truth.”
That quote won't be found in any of Lincoln's official writings or transcripts of speeches. It comes straight from the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which opened last weekend nationwide. The film portrays an alternate vision of Lincoln's life and presidency: vampires exist, and have for millennia. Young Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) learns of their existence when his mother is murdered by the vampire Jack Barts (Marton Csokas). Vowing his vengeance, he is trained by skilled vampire slayer Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper) and begins his career as a vampire hunter, armed with a special silver axe.
Fans of Bekmambetov's films should be quite familiar with his style. His movies are riddled with high-octane action sequences that are ridiculous yet incredibly exciting due to their originality and over-stylization. (His films Wanted and Day Watch have drawn ample comparisons to The Matrix.) Bekmambetov produces pure eye candy, but in a way that is uniquely his; anyone can showcase a series of explosions a la Michael Bay, but I guarantee you have never seen an apocalypse like the one portrayed in Day Watch.
When it comes to action sequences, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter remained consistent with Bekmambetov's usual visual style. Lincoln twirls an axe at high speed like a cheerleader with a baton and uses it to decapitate and dismember the undead with such precision and finesse you wouldn't even guess it only took a single (really awkward) training montage to achieve such skills. It doesn't matter whether he is fighting on the ground or on a speeding train or leaping from horseback to horseback—Lincoln's got it down.