A painting is stolen from a building during a great fire and after it is recovered, the police finds inside a mysterious map. A police officer responsible for the case asks his brother (...
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A painting is stolen from a building during a great fire and after it is recovered, the police finds inside a mysterious map. A police officer responsible for the case asks his brother (Stephen Baldwin), who is an antiques expert, to help him during the investigation. Analysing the paint and fabric, they find that the map belonged to Cristopher Columbus and the drawings in it refer to an old legend of a lost treasure. Besides unraveling the mysterious riddles, the police officer and his brother will have to fight off a violent gang pursuing the treasure as well. Written by
Evidently, a good place to hide a fifteenth century treasure map is behind a not very interesting painting, which will eventually end up in an art gallery. How would anyone know that it was hidden behind a painting? Well that, and most of the other details of this film, is never explained. For example, why would an art museum be loaded up with 55-gallon drums of gasoline, so that when it is torched as a diversion to stealing the painting, they could explode like rockets? And for that matter, with all the exploding and flames everywhere, the painting should have been burnt to a crisp before anyone had a chance to swipe it. But this is supposed to be a thriller, so all the absurd pyrotechnics of the beginning were evidently thought necessary to startle the twelve-year-olds in the audience.
After that as an introduction, the basic idea is that there are no good guys, just varying degrees of bad guys and bystanders, who end up chasing after a lost treasure. Never mind that one is a cop and another a government agent, sworn to an oath to serve the public, and hence any treasure they might discover as a result of doing their jobs would more correctly belong to the people they serve. In other words, the basic message of this film is that serving the public might be fine in theory, but when the potential for feathering one's nest with a vast fortune gets involved, best to take the money and run. No wonder the current generation has so little faith in public servants. When they go to the movies, they see them portrayed as only marginally less greedy than the crooks.
This is a shameful story, which promotes the view that no matter how you end up with the loot, it is yours to keep and enjoy. The bad guys, who want to keep it all for themselves, must first be knocked out of course, after which the `good' guys get to divide the hoard. And the reason why they are `different' from the crooks is because they are less `violently' motivated by greed. In other words, if avarice is pursued less violently, perhaps more humanely, then it's okay. In any case, what matters is that you end up with the prize. Having the money is more important that how you got it. That, unfortunately, is the message of this story, and it is as harmful to the fabric of society as it could possibly be. It makes greed seem romantic and exciting, while acting as though social responsibility was not even worth considering.
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