Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) – Timur Bekmambetov (Dir.), Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anthony Mackie
I stand here a humbled man. It’s incredible. I went into this film with so many pre-conceived notions, so many half-formed opinions, divinely offered truths from gods on high etc. I assumed that this movie would be a disgusting amalgam of historic phlegm hacked up from Anne Rice’s asshole, given life by a humorless, penis-swinging director more concerned with visually masturbating in the most confusing manner possible than understanding even the first thing about historical/emotional context and human interaction. Well, I can tell you all that I, Andrew Mooney, of sound mind and sober disposition, was bowled-over by this film. It had the complexity and intelligence of a Doris Kearns-Goodwin book, the lyrical beauty of a Joyce novel, the…the… the…
I think I just had a stroke. Wait. What the fuck just happened? Was I channeling god? Or Armond White? Woah. Sorry about that. What were we talking about? Oh yes, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Well, let’s get started the right way, shall we?
This movie is fucking terrible.
Like, eight levels of complete nonsensical presidential turd. Wow. The most succinct way of describing this movie would be to say it is the cinematic equivalent of waking up in a bathtub full of ice and you’re missing a kidney. You thought the evening was going to be awesome when that pretty/trashy lady batted her eyes at you across the bar. The next morning, all you’re left with is a sense of violation, bewilderment and a great reduction in your ability to process biological waste. Alright, let’s get to it, boys and girls.
This movie is from a book from Seth Grahame-Smith, the comic genius behind Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. What could have been a hilarious romp into a tongue-in-cheek send up of the post-Twilight generation’s understanding of vampire lore as well as a parody of America’s inability to retain any historical knowledge turned into something else…something dark…and confusing. Perhaps in the hands of another director, we might have been offered some hipster-level irony, winks at the audience, and a meta understanding of the latent absurdity of the material at hand. ‘No!’ says Timur Bekmam-I-have-no-idea-how-to-say-his-name-betov. “No laughs for you!” This is serious movie. Like…super, super serious. It takes itself so seriously, you’d think it was fucking Bono. It’s not Bono. It’s more like that drag queen who sings U2 cover songs after twelve cosmopolitans while her friends are pleading for her to just get off the stage and grab a taxi, you’re embarrassing us all, LaTwanda.
There will be spoilers. Deal with it. This movie ain’t about plot or twists or emotional engagement. It’s about…well, I have no fucking clue. Let’s start at the beginning. It’s about Abraham Lincoln hunting vampires. Okay, plot summary over. You think you have some acting pedigree enter the mix when the heavily-quaffed Dominic Cooper shaves off that unfortunate pedo-stache he had in Captain America: I Won’t Write What’s After This Colon Because It’s Dumb and applies alabaster foundation like a 13-year-old girl after her first outing to Hot Topic. But you’re wrong. He’s a great actor, just not in this. I even hear Benjamin Walker is pretty good on stage. Not here, boys and girls. They both wander from scene to scene hoping that their utter misunderstanding of whatever BekmamseriouslyIcan’twriteitanymorebetov will come off as amiable ‘charm’. It kinda works.
Well, Cooper teaches Abraham to kill vampires to get vengeance on the one who murdered his mom. Sure. Why not? What doesn’t make a goddamned lick of fucking sense is that Abe is suddenly able to make trees explode because of ‘truth’. WHAT!? I literally yelled at the screen. Does that mean if someone asks, “Did you eat the last cookie in the cookie jar?” And I say, “Yes.” Do I suddenly become Blade? What fucking logic is that? Also, what kind of vampires are these that are entirely flippant about sunlight, don’t seem susceptible to wooden stakes and whose only ‘power’ is to turn invisible? Um…alrighty then. The only addition to the vampire canon that seemed mildly intriguing was the concept that vampires can’t kill other vampires. Huh. Cool. Anyway, back to the nonsense.
We get a menagerie of famous historical figures wandering across the screen. We have Stephen Douglas (played by a woefully underused Alan Tudyk), Mary Todd (resident hottie and Ramona of my dreams Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Harriet Tubman (*facepalm*) and Abe Lincoln’s black friend. You know. The one who was like his second in command through his entire presidential career. You’d know him if you saw him. He used to defuse bombs in Baghdad in the amazingly cool The Hurt Locker. What he’s doing here is anyone’s guess (paycheck?). But all of that crap is fine. It’s what we all expect from a ridiculous treat such as this. It’s the rest of it that makes my head want to implode on itself.
The action scenes. Like if Rachel Weisz were high on Meth, they’re ridiculously pretty but you’re fairly sure they’re channeling the dark lord. I didn’t understand a fucking thing whenever anything action-related occurred. Especially with 3D (lord have mercy), things seemed to come in and out of focus willy-nilly. Bekmammakeitstopbetov never seems content to let the camera sit still. Almost every scene begins with a hilariously hammy zoom from the skies above down to the action. The screen is constantly kinetic, like a 2 year old forced to sit through Lawrence of Arabia. The truest moments of brain-fuckery that occurred were the major set pieces. I’m used to people like Joss Whedon, whose main mantra is ‘Make sure people can see what is happening.’ Bekmam…I give up. I’m going to call him Beck from now on (if this movie were made by Beck it would have been…well…probably pretty boring, let’s be honest). Ok, Beck doesn’t give a fuck. Not a single solitary fuck. People ask him, “Do you care about the historical context of slavery and how it has been branded upon the social memory for all time as one of the greatest human atrocities this nation has ever known?” His response: “Go fuck yourself.” What’s his next movie, Oskar Schindler: Leprechaun Catcher? He’s about a subtle as a colonoscopy.
So, the most egregious moments: There is a fight scene, in which, if I understand it correctly (and that’s anyone’s guess) a vampire throws a horse at Abraham Lincoln, who then catches it and RIDES IT. WHAT. THE. BLUE-ASSED. FUCK. WAS. THAT? The slew of profanity that spewed from my lips would have made Bob Sagat blush. Also, when Abe goes to save his special black friend from the vampires and all shit goes crazy, Abe comes in swinging like Neo on a good day. Okay, fine. He’s trained. They had a montage. I will accept your terms, Beck. However, when about to be bitten, his special black friend does a back-flip (or black-flip, technically – sorry, I had to) and grabs the vampire by the head with his fucking heels. WHAT? Where the goddamned hell did he learn to do that? I know ‘Magical Negro’ is an accepted cinematic term, but I don’t believe this is an appropriate application… Also, when Abe ages from looking like if Liam Neeson dipped his face in Botox to the ugly-assed prez we all know and love, none of the other characters age. They literally just sprinkled some white powder into Anthony Mackie’s hair and declared, “Yep, that looks good.” Also, Mary Elizabeth Winstead looks like she just got out of a high school production of Steel Magnolias. And nobody changes the way they act. They’re just as young and virile, their faces just look more vagina-esque.
And Rufus Sewell. What happened? You were so awesome and cool in Dark City. You have a brooding talent that is scarcely seen by the light of day. Why are you rotting away in whore-buckets such as this? You were probably the best part of the movie…other than that guy sitting behind me who said the word ‘Wow’ at all the right times. Mainly during pensive silences in terribly-acted scenes. He was awesome. At the end of the movie, while the rest of the Northwestern students complained that people were laughing at the movie, I turned around and shook the man’s hand, thanking him for enhancing my movie going experience. That guy is my hero. So, in conclusion, see this movie if you want your brain-space violated by Bekmamketasaurus Rex’s film penis. After getting home, I crawled into my shower and turned on the cold water. I sat there all night, knowing I shall never be clean again.
So…if that’s your thing. Go for it. You have my full support.