RELEASE DATE Nov. 19
Enough with the Oscar-baiting dramatic roles. Nicolas Cage is ready for some action. ''I like to keep people guessing,'' says the actor of following ''Adaptation'' and ''Matchstick Men'' with the fast-paced ''Treasure.'' ''I like to keep myself guessing. I can do smaller, more thought-provoking movies, and I can make an adventure film that I'm excited about.'' Reuniting with Überproducer Jerry Bruckheimer (together they've made ''The Rock,'' ''Con Air,'' and ''Gone in 60 Seconds'') was pretty cool too. ''Jerry has a good sense of my strengths,'' says Cage. ''He knows what he wants...we trust each other.''
Cage stars as Benjamin Franklin Gates, a historian whose family has been hunting an elusive treasure for generations. When he learns that America's Founding Fathers printed a map to the hidden riches (created by the Knights Templar, an ancient secret society) on the back of the Declaration of Independence, Gates decides to steal the document. But only ''in order to protect it,'' Cage notes. ''Other people'' -- that would be bad guy Sean Bean -- ''want it for selfish gain.'' Diane Kruger, playing the hottest conservator the National Archives has ever seen, doesn't buy any of it.
And so ensues a cat-and-mouse race that takes Gates and a techie sidekick (Justin Bartha) from Washington, D.C., to the Arctic. ''Treasure hunts and grand adventures involving history always take place'' outside the United States, says director Jon Turteltaub, who, it just so happens, went to high school with Cage. ''I think we did a great job using American icons, landmarks, and vacation spots as mysterious historical locations.''
As for the inevitable comparisons to the best-selling ''Da Vinci Code,'' Bruckheimer just shrugs. ''The audience we'll be entertaining, chances are they didn't read it. And the ones who did will be attracted to this, so we win either way.''
WHAT'S AT STAKE Not much now that Bruckheimer's left ''King Arthur'' behind and is back to what he does best: chase scenes and explosions.