(Historical fiction, R, 105 minutes)
When acting alongside Benjamin Walker in her drama class at Cartersville High School, LaTria Garnigan recalled thinking, “I always knew he’d be a star.”
Walker, a CHS class of 2000 graduate, has moved beyond the classroom to the big screen, starring in “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” The film opened Friday nationwide, and it will blew me away.
Seth Grahame-Smith is the author of the book of the same title as well as “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” Both are New York Times best-sellers. The books weave elements of horror and the undead into a literary classic and the history of a nation, respectively.
Walker, a 2004 Juilliard graduate, plays the title role. Lincoln sees his first glimpse of evil in two forms: slavery and vampires. His friend, Will Johnson, is whipped right in front of him. As young boy tries to protect his friend, Lincoln’s mother lunges and tries to keep both boys out of danger. She fiercely tells the slave master, “Until every man is free, we are all slaves.” This is something the future president will always remember.
Lincoln then witnesses his mother’s death. The culprit — vampires. As an adult, he vows to get revenge by killing her murderer: Jack Barts (Marton Csokas), the same slave owner who whipped Will. However, Lincoln is in over his head in this attempt and is saved by a stranger, Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper).
However, this stranger’s move is calculated. Slavery serves as a distraction to the vampires’ wrath, but Sturgess recruits this young man to destroy them for the good of all mankind. Lincoln later realizes abolishing slavery will also rid the country of vampires. It’s a win-win.
However, he seems like an unlikely choice for a killer. Lincoln tall, gangly and seems weak. But with Henry’s hardcore training and Lincoln’s skills with a special ax make all the difference.
This movie is beyond impressive. It’s mind-blowing. I haven’t read the book, which I think put me at an advantage — no spoilers. But, I now look forward to reading it.
The historical aspects — Springfield, Ill., Lincoln debating Stephen Douglas and meeting Mary Todd, the presidency, slavery and Civil War — are all there. But so are exhilarating action scenes. Even though stuntmen are used in the movie, Walker’s scenes are impressive.
He wields the ax like a pro and is a ruthless killer. There is a part of the film where the action slows down and history is more of the focus, but you will need this time to catch your breath.
The film was produced by Tim Burton and directed by Timur Bekmambetov. Supporting cast members include Anthony Mackie as adult Will Johnson; Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln; Rufus Sewell and Erin Wasson as vampires Adam and Vadoma, respectively; and Jimmi Simpson as Joshua Speed, a store owner in Springfield and Abe’s boss. A history teacher might balk at the horror movie remix of the legacy of our nation’s 16th president, but there’s no doubt that he or she will be entertained.