Sight and Sound - 02/01/2005
"[T]he freshest performance comes from relative newcomer Justin Bartha as comic-relief sidekick..."
American history gets a cool make-over in this Jerry Bruckheimer-produced comedic action thriller. Nicholas Cage plays Ben Gates, the descendent of an early American patriot who has left him information relating to a vast treasure, hidden during the Revolutionary War by the Freemasons. A clue at the north pole sets things in motion, and Ben must use his formidable cryptography skills to decipher puzzles hidden in the most unlikely places--one appears on the dollar bill, and another is on the back of the U.S. constitution. Ben's unscrupulous former partner (Sean Bean) and his gang of thugs are also after the treasure for selfish, evil purposes. A plot to steal the Constitution sets off a 13-colony-wide chase with all the trimmings: cops going after the wrong man, the rescue of a cute female cryptographer (Diane Kruger) who tags along for the ride, and Jon Voight answering the door in the middle of the night as Ben's disapproving father. High-speed editing and a clever script make this an enjoyable history lesson, with Cage's character masquerading as his own versions of Sherlock Holmes, Indiana Jones, and an over-caffeinated Washington D.C. tour guide. He and Kruger demonstrate some fine romantic chemistry, and Justin Bartha gets off some legitimately funny lines as Ben's long-suffering sidekick. Last but not least, Harvey Keitel makes a very cool FBI chief.
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