National Treasure

If you can't wait for the far-off movie version of Dan Brown's mega-selling The DaVinci Code, don't get crazy. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer has ripped off the plot, shifted the spiritual focus from Christ and the saints to a hunt for treasure, changed the setting from France to the U.S. (to avoid lawsuits, the French would call it an hommage) and turned a tense pageturner into rancid cinematic cheese. Nicolas Cage as Benjamin Franklin Gates, a nutjob historian who has frittered away his career — much to the consternation of his daddy (Jon Voight) — chasing an alleged treasure hidden by our Founding Fathers with the help of the Knights Templar, an uber-secret society which leaves more clues than a TV reality show desperate for ratings. Cage's sleuth is convinced the map to the treasure is hidden on the back of the Declaration of Independence. So he steals it, and takes off on the chase with his computer nerd buddy (Justin Bartha) and a hot blonde (Diane Kruger), who just happens to be the conservator of the National Archives. It's not just hard to believe any of this, it's impossible. And director Jon Turteltaub (Phenomenom) directs with robotic cheerlessness. For Cage, this is a paycheck movie. For Bartha, it's an attempt to make the public forget he was in Gigli. For Kruger, who played Helen in Troy, it's proof positive she can't act. For the audience, it should be torture. But I have the sick feeling it might be a hit. Bruckheimer films (Armageddon, Con Air, Gone in 60 Seconds) make seductive trailers. But you won't find any treasure in the films themselves — just fool's gold.

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