Occasionally, I set out watching a movie with the expectation that it is going to be awful, and then discover that it really was entertaining. This was one such film.
I can hear some of you now…”But Blackiswhite, it’s about vampires and the Civil War! That’s ridiculous!”
And my head is nodding yes, but let me remind you of something. The title is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Suspension of disbelief is just part of the package when you sit down to watch it, don’t you think?
Honestly, despite the fact that the script had very few “A-ha” moments, and you marvel at the main character’s inability to see something that was right before him all along, the story managed to stay engaging, due in large part to the portrayal of Lincoln by Benjamin Walker as a talented, yet not overly bright rail-splitter turned vampire hunter who louses up his first opportunity to dispatch the vampire who killed his mother years earlier, and is saved, then tutored by Henry Sturges (played by an amused Dominic Cooper) in the ways of killing the nightstalkers without ending up an entrée. We then see Mr. Lincoln blaze a bloody trail through twilight Springfield, Illinois, until he captures the attention of “Adam”, so-called because he is the “oldest of us”, brilliantly played by Rufus Sewell, who stole the movie in an exchange with the young Mr. Lincoln while he had him at a disadvantage. I won’t reveal too much, but the money quote was part of that exchange, in which Adam looks down on a struggling Abe, and gives him a taste of his own perception of human nature, built on an immortal’s experience.
“May I share with you one of the revelations of my five thousand years? We are all slaves to something. I, to eternity, you to your convictions, others to the color of their skin. “
It went on, but this struck me as an honest nugget of truth about the human condition, presented in a manner far more subtle than I have come to expect from Hollywood.
The movie, and Abe’s life progressed after this, giving a very sinister undertone to the Civil War, and an alternate take on the bloodshed of Gettysburg, and the steps taken by Lincoln and his friends to address this new threat that brought him out of his retirement from vampire hunting, and into a genuine climax, and the necessary denouement which is so often lacking in many modern films.
In closing, don’t expect Oscar-caliber performances, although Rufus Sewell played the arch-villain with an undeniable flair that also managed to not be heavy-handed. Frankly, his performance alone made the film worth watching, but a fun script and interesting dialogue helped the film considerably. It’ll never make my top 20, but I wasn’t cursing the fact that I wouldn’t get the rental fee and the hour and forty-five minutes back either. I call that a win.