In 1818, Abraham "Abe" Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) lives with his parents, Nancy (Robin McLeavy) and Thomas (Joseph Mawle), who work at a plantation owned by Jack Barts (Marton Csokas). There, Lincoln befriends a young African American boy, William Johnson (later to be played by Anthony Mackie), and intervenes when he sees Johnson being beaten by an overseer. Because of his son's actions, Thomas is fired and his employer demands the debt he owed to be paid fully. That night, Lincoln sees Barts break into his house and attack Nancy. She dies shortly afterwards. Thomas tells Lincoln that Barts poisoned Nancy.
Nine years later, feeling vengeful, Lincoln almost drinks himself into a stupor to build up his courage to pursue Barts and put a bullet into him. A stranger casually comments on his drinking motives but Lincoln simply ignores him and walks away to fulfill his purpose.
Lincoln attacks Barts at the docks, but Barts, who is actually a vampire, overpowers him. However, before Barts can kill him, Lincoln is rescued by Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper), the stranger he met at the bar.
the next day as Lincoln awakens, Sturges explains that vampires exist, and offers to teach Lincoln to be a vampire hunter. Lincoln accepts and spends the summer with Henry sharpening his senses. During his training, Sturges tells Lincoln that the vampires in America descend from Adam (Rufus Sewell), a vampire who owns a plantation in New Orleans with his sister, Vadoma (Erin Wasson). Sturges also tells Lincoln of the vampires' weakness, silver, and presents him with a silver pocket watch. Henry nurses Lincoln back to health and explains some of the nature of vampirism, emphasizing that some vampires are good and others are evil.
After a certain period of his training, Lincoln travels to Springfield, Illinois to start hunting the vampires. There he gets a job from Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson) as a shopkeeper while he studies Law. Henry sends Lincoln the names and addresses of evil vampires; Abraham dutifully tracks them down and kills them. in the process, he meets Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) whom he would later marry.
Eventually, Lincoln successfully finds and defeats Barts. Before dying, Barts reveals that Sturges is also a vampire. Lincoln confronts Sturges, who reveals that, several years ago, he was attacked and bitten by Adam. Because Sturges' soul was impure, he became a vampire, and that prevented him from harming Adam or any other vampire since "Only the living can kill the dead". Sturges has since been training vampire hunters, hoping to destroy Adam. Disappointed, Lincoln decides to abandon furthering his mission.
However, when a casket of Barts arrived to his mansion, together with the silver watch, Adam is furious and kidnaps Johnson to lure Lincoln into coming to his ball at his plantation. in order to save Johnson, Lincoln recruits Speed in the mission. however, it is a trap as Adam captures Lincoln and tries to recruit him, revealing his plans to turn the United States into a nation of the undead. Speed rescues his friends, and they barely escape to Ohio with the help of the slaves.
Lincoln decides to enter politics in order to free the Southern slaves from the vampires who are feeding on them, much to the chagrin of Henry Sturges. Henry argues that allowing the southern vampires to have slaves as a food source is the only thing keeping the vampires from attacking everyone else. Lincoln counters that allowing this is immoral and that everyone deserves freedom. Henry and Lincoln's relationship seemingly ends after the disagreement. Lincoln puts aside his axe and is determined to end the scourge of vampires and slavery through political means.
Lincoln's 1860 presidential election triggers the secession of the southern states and the start of the American Civil War which has been a disaster for the Union. Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation to not only free the slaves but eliminate the vampires main food source. However, the war takes a personal toll on Lincoln. Vadoma sneaks into the White House disguised as a maid and kills Lincoln's son, Willy. Henry appears at the White House and offers to turn Willy into a vampire so that he will "live" again, but Lincoln is unwilling to allow it, causing a drift between him and Mary Todd, who finally learn about the vampire-hunting secrets that Lincoln kept away from her.
On the Union-Confederate battlefields, Adam deploys his vampires, and this causes the massacre of the Union army on the first day at Gettysburg.
Being so frustrated at so many loss of the Union soldiers, it drives Lincoln into realising only the silver can kill the vampires so that the Union soldiers have a standing chance. He orders the confiscation of all the silverware to produce silver weapons. Speed, believing that Lincoln is tearing the nation apart, informs Adam that Lincoln will transport the silver by train to Gettysburg.
On the train, Adam and Vadoma, who have set fire to the upcoming trestle, attack Lincoln, Sturges, and Johnson. During the fight Adam learns that the train holds only rocks. Speed reveals that his betrayal was a ruse to lure Adam into a trap. Enraged, Adam bites Speed and kills him. The carriages begin to break loose off the train and the group have to jump carriages to escape. Adam corners them but Lincoln gets out his silver pocket watch and punches Adam in the chest, killing him, and Lincoln escapes the exploding train alongside his allies.
Meanwhile, Mary and the ex-slaves have transported the silver to Gettysburg through the Underground Railroad - it is here that Vadoma is killed by Mary using her son's necklace. The now leaderless Confederate vampires stage a final, massive assault and are met head-on by the Union. Armed with their silver weapons, the Union soldiers destroy the vampires and eventually win the battle.
Nearly two years later, on April 14, 1865, Sturges tells Lincoln that the remaining vampires have fled the country. Sturges tries to convince Lincoln to allow him to turn Lincoln into a vampire, so that he can become immortal and continue to fight vampires, but Lincoln declines and leaves for the theater with his wife.
In modern times, Sturges approaches a man at a bar in Washington, D.C. as he once approached Lincoln.
it was a rather flimsy plot with loopholes that elephants can dance around so cosily, in herds! there are so many chances for Abe to finish off Barts but he didn't do it, sticking instead to Henry's postal orders. why? even during the rescue of Johnson, he should have finished Adam off but he didn't, waiting instead for everyone in the south to suffer. plus, why did he have to abandon the mission of ridding vampires should his instructor was also a vampire? this is not about henry for g-sake!
and i tend to notice that this film is so crowd-pleasing. Johnson had been bitten but that doesn't turn him into vampire. the fiery train, how in the world that they escaped that? and how did Abe recover so quickly from his nightly wounds? grrr..
sincerely, this movie has too many holes in the story that i'm tired of enumerating them. too much. even Abe's prosthetic face seems too fake!
as for Henry, given that he can fight off Adam (as shown in the final fighting scene) and whatnots, he should stick to that. be a protector instead boleh? instead of making excuses for himself and preying upon vengeful desperate souls..
entahlah. it's a boring pointless film. the special effects are ok though.