Producer Jerry Bruckheimer does 'The Da Vinci Code' without actually securing the rights with this treasure-hunting adventure that sees Nicolas Cage in full hangdog hero mode. Ever since Grandpa told him the story, Benjamin (Cage) has been seeking a mythical treasure trove, amassed over centuries and well-hidden by America's founding fathers. Unfortunately the latest clue requires him to steal the Declaration of Independence, which is about as easy as nicking the Crown Jewels...
As the clues pile up thick and fast, Ben Gates is in a race to get to the loot before his rival - and former employer - Howe (Sean Bean) can get his greedy British mitts on it.
Aided by a de rigeur nerdy sidekick (The Hangover's Justin Bartha) and how-on-Earth-did-she-get-this-job FBI agent Abigail Chase (Troy beauty Diane Kruger), Gates tries to solve the mother of all riddles.
It might put the corn in popcorn, but you won't mind as Cage and co probe every nook and cranny to get to the bottom of the mystery while doing their best to give the villains the slip. Another place of historic interest on 'Long Jerry' Bruckheimer's treasure map.
The tried-and-trusted Bruckheimer formula makes this wild goose chase cornily entertaining for the first hour or so, then it starts to drag a bit.
In fact it drags a lot. In fact, I was at the point where if another person wandered into another cobwebby nook or cranny once more, I was going to scream.
The tricksy but relatively undemanding plot is fun, but the movie runs out of momentum, stretched as it is over two hours and stuffed with unconvincing, by-the-numbers characters.
Cage looks sheepish, Voight (as daddy Gates) looks lost, Kruger is prettily vacant, chief villain Bean is half-baked and Keitel repeats his dogged lawman act from Thelma & Louise.
By the end, the hardest things to figure out are (i) why can't Nicolas Cage run, and (ii) will Jerry Bruckheimer ever make a movie with American baddies?