Time: 124 mins.
SYNOPSIS: Treasure hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates looks to discover the truth behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, by uncovering the mystery within the 18 pages missing from assassin John Wilkes Booth's diary.
BOTTOM LINE: Being a big fan of both history and mystery, this film was right up my alley, yet it's not one I rushed out to see. In fact I wasn't expecting to be as entertained as I was. I generally like Cage and think he makes a credible action hero having enough brains and brawn but I frankly thought this was going to be a fairly mindless action flick. The presence of Mirren, Voight and Harris swayed my better instincts, hoping that they would choose a project worthy of their talents. For the most part, the plot and action were better than I hoped with only the overwrought and lengthy ending taking the wind out the story's sails.
Cage reprises his role as treasure hunter Ben Gates, who this time out learns that one of his honored forefathers may have been one of the men behind the assasination of Lincoln. Ben and his father (Voight) refuse to believe their relative was a traitor to their beloved country. So with the help of his estranged wife (Kruger) and quirky partner (Barth) he goes on a hunt around the world to find clues to prove the allegations made by Mitch Wilkinson are wrong. Their search for the truth places them on the path to finding the mythical City of Gold, which is exactly what Mitch had hoped would happen. He's determined to find it in order to turn his family's poor historical reputation (they fought for the Confederacy) into a positive one. Fighting to clear the honor of relatives long dead seems like a lame idea to base a treasure hunt on, however, the filmmakers acutally make it work.
Of course, using the Lincoln assassination – an historical event everyone knows something about and is an action mostly reviled – gives the film some weight amidst all the chasing and one-liners. Even though the plot involves many dangerous situations, it's pretty clear from the film's tone that the only people who are going to be hurt here are the bad guys. While the mystery was unraveling I found myself fairly interested in the proceedings and excited to see what they'd uncover next. Once everyone gets to the City of Gold, which is a given, things sort of bog down in effects pieces and a great deal of pathos to see who's going to actually get out of this secret place alive. Sure, the City of Gold set is cool, but since its existence is only a surprise to the characters, I wished the ending could have been about 10 minutes shorter. All in all, this is fun ride with a clever plot, good acting and enough adventure to please most viewers. Including me.