Don’t get your hopes up too much for National Treasure. It’s a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. It’s supposed to be dumb.

Producer Bruckheimer’s humorless Indiana Jones knockoff is the movie equivalent of a page-turner.

It’s all about the plot, an endless series of clues leading our intrepid hero through the shadowy corners of early U.S. history. Capers, chases and gunplay slow him in his pursuit of that next clue, that next page to turn.

But stop for even a second to develop characters – to explain the centuries-long family pursuit of a “treasure beyond all imagining” – and this Jon Turtletaub thriller is as dead as the frozen corpses that Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) finds on a long-lost sailing ship in the film’s first scenes.

Ben has lived most of his life knowing a family secret. Grandpa (Christopher Plummer) told him the tale at 10: “It was 1832, a night much like this one …”

A stunning treasure of the Pharaohs was found by the Knights Templars in the Middle Ages and kept hidden, because it was “too much for one man” to reckon with, “even a king.”

The Templars evolved into the Masons, and when the treasure was sent to America, the Masonic Founding Fathers hid it away and left clues about its whereabouts. It has been the curse of the Gates men to find just enough of those clues to keep looking.

Ben’s dad (Jon Voight) rejected the quest. But Ben, with a wealthy backer (Sean Bean), is close. He figures out that the treasure map is on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

Since generic Brit-villain Bean – “Patriot Games,” “GoldenEye,” “The Lord of the Rings” – is playing his backer, you know he’s a bad guy. You know he’ll want to steal the Declaration. Ben decides to steal it first.

But that heist is practically at the beginning of this two-hour tour of Washington, Philadelphia, Boston and New York. Cops and crooks are on the trail of Ben and his techno-dull sidekick, Riley (Justin Bartha).

They accidentally team up with a National Archives Declaration of Independence “expert,” inexplicably played by the too young (28) and too Teutonic (she’s German) Diane Kruger (Helen of Troy).

Stupid, yes. But it’s a PG-rated action film with little dollops of U.S. and world history. What’s a little stupid when you’re teaching kids the original American conspiracy theory, about the Masons and those funny symbols on the back of American currencies?

Turtletaub, who made “Instinct” and “Phenomenon” and a lot of utter junk for Disney (“Disney’s The Kid,” “Cool Runnings”), is all about taking us to the next location, the next clue.

That’s boring when you know, at some point, that the torches will come out and we’ll all end up in some ancient crypt.

Cage invests none of the edge, passion or heart we’ve come to expect from him in the part. Bean has no decent villainous moments, and the rest of the cast (save for Voight) is forgettable and generic.

It’s kid-friendly, so see it with a 10-year-old. Tell her about the Masons and money, the Liberty Bell and Benjamin Franklin’s Silence Dogood letters.

And when you walk out the theater, pass one last bit of wisdom along:

“Someday, you’ll be too smart for Jerry Bruckheimer movies.”

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

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