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TV Movie Review: 'Killing Lincoln'.

Updated on February 27, 2013

'Killing Lincoln'.

It appears that Hollywood is attempting to milk all that it can from the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Since I enjoy history, I can't say that I'm disappointed with it. In June of 2012, the fantasy horror movie 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' was released. Later in 2012, Steven Spielberg's drama film, 'Lincoln' was released in movie theaters. On February 17, 2013, the National Geographic Channel premiered the documentary/drama 'Killing Lincoln'.

Like various other accounts of Abraham Lincoln, this made for television film detailed the events leading up to the assassination of the 16th president. I - like many others, have always been intrigued by the murder of the man that many consider to be the greatest president in the history of the United States. So much so, that I brought and read the book 'The Day Lincoln was Shot'. I had the opportunity to see Killing Lincoln on the night it premiered. I'm going to give a brief review on what I thought of the docudrama.


Killing Lincoln was based on the book; 'Killing Lincoln: The Assassination that Changed America Forever.' The book was authored by Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly, and Martin Dugard. The book itself was released back September of 2011, and was a best seller on Amazon. As of November, 2011, it is number two on the New York Times best-selling non-fiction list.

Although the book is a popular best seller, it has been met with criticisms from various critics and historians. In the latter part of 2011, Bill O'Reilly told USA Today via a phone interview that he was in talks with producers to turn the book into a cable television special. British film director Tony Scott had been working on an adaption for the book for the National Geographic Channel. However, Scott committed suicide on August 19, 2012.

Production for the film had already begun at the time of Scott's death. The movie was aired as a tribute to Tony Scott. Killing Lincoln was directed by Adrian Moat, and stars Billy Campbell as Lincoln, Jesse Johnson as John Wilkes Booth, and Geraldine Hughes as Mary Todd Lincoln.

Film facts.

Killing Lincoln is narrated by actor Tom Hanks. Although Hanks narrated the film, there is plenty of acting that takes place in the film. The film shows the perspective from both John Wilkes Booth and Abraham Lincoln. John Wilkes Booth is remembered as the stage actor, who put the plot to murder the president and members of his cabinet into play. Booth pulled off one of the most historic crimes in American history. The film portrays Lincoln as a hero of the Civil War, but also as a deeply troubled man, who appeared to see visions of his impending death coming.

The film displays various events from both Booth and Lincoln leading up to tragic events at Fords Theater. The events of the film are cut between flashbacks to narrator Tom Hanks, where he is shown sitting in a chair with various items that somehow relate to the film's story. During the cuts to Hanks, he reveals the number of days and hours both Lincoln and Booth have to live. I thought it was a nice twist, and made the movie more interesting to watch.

Some of the historic moments captured in the film include President Lincoln's walk through Richmond, Virginia, and encountering an African-American slave who thanked him. Lincoln sitting in Jefferson Davis's chair, and the graphic attack on Lincoln's Secretary of State, William Seward, by the hands of Booth's associate and co-conspirator Lewis Powell.

Personal thoughts.

I really enjoyed watching this film, and even learned some things I hadn't previously known. For example, there was a scene during the movie where Booth mentioned how he could have killed Lincoln at Lincoln's second inaugural address. Booth was actually at the address, and had his sights on Lincoln. I never knew this until seeing this film. Although it was two hours long(with commercials), it didn't feel like it at all. For years I've been wanting to see the assassination of President Lincoln played out on film, but for one reason or another I was unable to. There are various scenes in this film that are graphic and hard to watch, but the acting is top notch.

The guy playing Abraham Lincoln(Billy Campbell) done an amazing job in my opinion. Besides Geraldine Hughes, I wasn't previously aware of any of the other others. Hughes herself was amazing as Lincoln's wife. There is definitely some language that many would consider inappropriate However, I feel it's necessary to capture the element of the rough times back then.

If I had to rate this film, I would give it a 5 out of 5. I'm no expert film critic, but I think this was a good made for television movie. The movie averaged 3.4 million viewers, and is currently National Geographic's highest rated television airing. I'm definitely not a fan of Bill O'Reilly, but I have to give him credit for helping shape this film.


If you enjoyed this, check out my review on the book 'The Day Lincoln was Shot'.


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    • prospectboy profile image

      Bradrick H. 5 years ago from Texas

      @mary615, Thanks a lot for the positive feedback. I hope you're able to see this movie as well. It's definitely worth the time. I want to see "Lincoln" also. Hopefully I will soon. Thanks again for reading and replying :)

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      I haven't seen this movie. I'll make a point of watching it now that I have read your Hub. I also want to see "Lincoln".

      Good job on this review.

    • prospectboy profile image

      Bradrick H. 5 years ago from Texas

      @LauraD093, Glad you enjoyed, and I hope you're able to see it soon. Thanks for stopping through :)

    • prospectboy profile image

      Bradrick H. 5 years ago from Texas

      @RBJ33, Hello there good sir! Thanks a lot for taking out time to check out this hub. I hope you're able to catch a replay of it. It's definitely worth it. I've yet to see 'Lincoln' with Daniel Day-Lewis, but I plan on watching it sometime.

      It's funny that you mentioned Doctor Mudd. He was shown in the TV movie that I wrote about. It also went in-depth on how Booth was caught and met his demise. I thought it was a very well done docudrama. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your feedback sir. I appreciate it a lot.

    • prospectboy profile image

      Bradrick H. 5 years ago from Texas

      @Karen, Hello once again, and thanks again for stopping by. Yea I reached the 100 mark yesterday. I'm pretty happy about it. I very well may write a hub about it. Thanks for that idea, and the continued support. All the best to you!

    • LauraD093 profile image

      Laura Tykarski 5 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      Really enjoyed this review-I'll have to add to my must see list.

    • RBJ33 profile image

      RBJ33 5 years ago

      Hey Mr. Boy - good review - I missed the film, but hope they show it again. I recently saw Lincoln with Daniel Day-Lewis - very good movie.

      Did you know that after the shooting Wilkes-Booth was treated for his injured leg by a Doctor Mudd? Mudd was put on trial as a conspirator and sent to prison - he was not a conspirator, just in the wrong place at the wrong time - he did not know Wilkes-Booth before treating him. Interesting side-lite is that the saying "Your name is Mudd" came from this incident.

    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 5 years ago from Georgia

      Hey there, I just popped on to see your stats and saw that you are at the 100 hub mark. Whoo hoo...good for you. Time to celebrate...or at least write a hub about hitting 100 hubs? Love to know what you have learned through your 100 hub experience?!!!

    • prospectboy profile image

      Bradrick H. 5 years ago from Texas

      @Karen, Thank you so much. I'm not sure when they're showing it again, but check it out if you can. I've been around on here, just not as active lately. Looking to change that. Thanks for your feedback, and the vote up!

    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 5 years ago from Georgia

      Nice review Prospect Boy. It makes me want to watch the movie now that I have read this. Haven't seen you on Hub Pages in awhile. Good to see you back on here. Voted up and interesting.