Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell, Anthony Mackie, Marton Csokas
Plot: An alternate story of Abraham Lincoln, on how he became a vampire hunter before he became President of the United States of America.
Review: In order to enjoy this film, you're gonna have to allow yourself to accept that a real historical figure was a supernatural hero of sorts. That is the premise of this film.
Based on the book by Seth Grahame-Smith, who also wrote the screenplay, it envisions Abraham Lincoln as a man who was a vampire killer before he joined politics and abolished slavery. The story begins when he was a child, as he witnessed his mother being killed by a vampire, and sought vengeance ever since. To that end, he learns the craft from Henry Sturgess, who saved him from being killed by a vampire.
Of course, this being Abraham Lincoln, the film fits in the important moments in Lincoln's life, like how he met his wife Mary Todd, how he becomes president, his famous speeches and the Civil War. The Civil War in particular is the most interesting aspect, as Grahame-Smith nicely connects Lincoln's war with the vampires to the conflict between the Union and the South.
Visual wise, director Timur Bekmambetov uses the same style he perfected in Wanted and the Nightwatch films: quick cuts and slow motion shots. Thankfully this actually works splendidly with the kind of film they were going for, even though sometimes it is hard to see the action clearly. The final action sequence involving a moving train is easily the best scene in the film.
Little known actor Benjamin Walker plays Lincoln, and is believable enough in the role. Walker looks a lot like a younger Liam Neeson, to be honest. The script unfortunately doesn't allow Walker to exercise too much of his acting chops, focusing more on his battle with the undead instead. Dominic Cooper fares better as Sturgess, the mysterious man with a score to settle. Mary Elizabeth Winstead does a good job as Lincoln's wife while Rufus Sewell is sly as always as the antagonist Adam, head of the vampires.
Speaking of the vampires, the filmmakers rightfully made them look pretty intimidating, reminiscent of the ones in Van Helsing, but a lot less campy. No Twilight type bloodsuckers here, they're all business, brutal and bloody.
ALVH turned out to be a very entertaining action fantasy flick. It could use a bit more meat on its script and a bit more time to develop its characters, but it is a lot of fun to watch. Recommended. (3.5/5)