Director: Jon Turteltaub
Writers: Jim Kouf, Cormac Wibberley and Marianne Wibberley
Actors: Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha and Sean Bean
Benjamin Gates will stop at nothing to prove that the legend of the Freemason treasure is real. Told down from his father and his father before him he’s spent his whole life trying to figure out the only surviving clue left by his ancestor. Now that clue has given him a map, on the back of the Declaration of Independence, and he will stop at nothing to steal it to get one step closer to that treasure.
It’s a premise so ridiculous that only Nicholas Cage can make it believeable: stealing the Declaration of Independence to use the hidden map on the back and discover a treasure trove worth millions buried beneath a major American city. And it’s so ridiculous that it actually works.
The movie opens with an over-the-top historical dramatization, which does double duty to show that the filmmakers are taking their own material quite seriously, but also lets the audience see how much fun there is to come. The story is interwoven in such a way that any heist, history or adventure fan will love it. The plot moves at a proper pace, without feeling like it’s rushing to the climax. The history is informative and engaging, although it can feel quite contrived at times, and the story takes small tidbits of fact to tell the story, as opposed to using big chunks that they have to alter to fit the narrative.
Nicholas Cage Nicholas-Cage’s his way through the film, giving enough energy to make you believe that his character that really believes in the existence of the treasure while everyone else – even his own father – has given up on idea. His nemesis is Sean Bean plays a convincing enough villain (and manages not to die for once), but there’s not enough backstory for why or how he’s betrayed Ben Gates and is seeking the treasure himself. Sadly, he comes across as more of a mustache-twirling caricature villain who does bad things just for the sake of it; one could argue greed is a motivation, but it’s not enough for a movie that’s made for a more mature audience. Rounding out the cast is ACTOR as Gates’ tech genius sidekick Riley, who always has a smartass answer that works as a rule; Jon Voight as Gates’ frustrated father, who has given up on both the treasure and his stubborn son; and Diane Kruger as love interest Dr. Chase, a historian who is appalled by Gates’ callous treatment of a centuries-old document, but not so much that she doesn’t fall for him anyways. Unfortunately, the romance is unearned, giving more of the impression that because both characters like history, they simply must end up together.
Pushing past the ludicrousness of the main plot point gives you a fun adventure film that takes itself seriously, but doesn’t ask the same of the audience.