Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 2004. Walt Disney Pictures, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Junction Entertainment, Saturn Films. Story by Jim Kouf, Oren Aviv, Charles Segars, Screenplay by Jim Kouf, Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley. Cinematography by Caleb Deschanel. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Jon Turteltaub. Music by Trevor Rabin. Production Design by Norris Spencer. Costume Design by Judianna Makovsky. Film Editing by William Goldenberg.
As a boy, Benjamin Franklin Gates is told a bedtime story he will never forget: his grandfather tells him of a secret conspiracy involving their family, about the Founding Fathers of America and their Masonic plot to conceal an enormous treasure trove of artifacts from around the world. The only clues these clever fellows left behind are hidden in places ranging in convenience from American currency to a ship at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. Now a grown man, Gates (Nicolas Cage) leads a team of charming bumbler (Justin Bartha) and a greedy villain (Sean Bean) in a continued attempt to find the treasure despite the fact that his father (Jon Voight) has practically disowned him and the academic community of the entire East Coast thinks him a lunatic. When Gates discovers that the biggest clue to where the treasure can be found is on the back of the Declaration of Independence, it sets forth in motion an Indiana Jones-like adventure that involves a gorgeous National Archives curator (Diane Kruger) who helps him race against Bean’s efforts to get the loot first. The story is terrific, and moves along at a steady clip, but there is an element of fun missing that could have been heightened more: for a story that plays like a paranoid fantasy it definitely has far too sober an air about it. It also doesn’t help that Cage and Kruger have no chemistry and as a result the romantic subplot feels like it’s being conducted at the point of a gun. Otherwise the cast blends in beautifully, with even Voight looking like he’s having a good time.