A few car chases, some naff wisecracks, a thumping orchestra and people leaping out of the way of big explosions v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y; in National Treasure director Jon Turteltaub doesn't dare tamper with a formula that, over the years, has crammed the coffers for producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Starring go-to action hero Nicolas Cage, the pic follows the hunt for a cache of ancient artefacts hidden by America's Founding Fathers. Sadly this movie couldn't be more stale if it'd been dug up by archaeologists.
After years of searching, Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) comes a step closer to unearthing the legendary Knights Templar Treasure. Convinced that a map is secreted on the back of The Declaration Of Independence, he resolves to "borrow" it before his back-stabbing partner Ian (Sean Bean) can get there first.
Inevitably the heist doesn't go smoothly and Ben convinces an attractive archivist (Diane Kruger) into helping out. Along with trusty assistant Riley (Justin Bartha), they pinball across the country, following a series of cryptic clues while Ian and the FBI are in hot pursuit.
"FALLS BACK ON CHEESY ACTION CLICHÉS"
Playing like The Goonies for all ages, there's a good deal of fun to be had in reviewing historical events as part of a mythic jigsaw puzzle - pieces including the humble one-dollar note and letters penned by Benjamin Franklin. Unfortunately whenever things threaten to get a little too cerebral/interesting, Turteltaub falls back on cheesy action clichés like Kruger dangling over a precipice, slowly slipping from Cage's grip as he asks: "Do you trust me?"
Cage's quirky tough guy routine (as seen in The Rock) is beginning to wear thin, while Kruger merely fills a vacancy for Bruckheimer's patented 'ball-busting babe'. Comedy sidekick Bartha is likeable, but poorly served by a string of dunderheaded one-liners. It's big and brassy, but the sands of time won't take long to bury National Treasure.
National Treaure is released in UK cinemas on 26th December 2004.