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National Treasure (2004) Poster

Goofs

Continuity 

At the beginning of the movie, Ben uses blood to stain the handle of the meerschaum pipe. This would have permanently stained the pipe dark red, or brown as the blood dried. At the end of the movie, when Ian puts the pipe down on the hood of the car, the stem is completely white and there are no engravings.
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Anachronisms 

Ben, Abigail and Riley follow a clue from the engraving of Independence Hall on the $100 bill. Noting the time on the clock in the tower and following the shadow of the tower to a spot on a wall. In reality the original tower of Independence Hall that existed in 1776 had no clock, it was built only to hold a bell (i.e. the Liberty Bell.) What's more that tower became unstable and was removed in 1781 and was replaced by a simple peaked roof. The original clock on the building was built into the side of the building facing Congress Hall. The current tower with its clock wasn't built until 1828. Benjamin Franklin who was the focus of many of the clues died in 1790 so there's no way he could have used the tower clock in setting up the clues. This information comes from "Historic Landmarks of Philadelphia" by Roger W. Moss.
Until 1883, there were no standard time zones. Almost every locality used solar time to determine the correct time (noon was the time when the sun was directly overhead in each city, and this, of course, varied depending on the location of the city).Standard time zones were established when railroad schedules necessitated them. The only way they could have determined when 2:22PM occurred in the 1700s was to find out when the sun was directly overhead, and add two hours and twenty-two minutes to that time. Additionally the the position of the sun at any particular minute of the day progressively changes throughout the year. The specification of the date upon which to view the telltale shadow clue should be know. Assuming they got the date coincidently correct they should have waited an additional two minutes.
As the scaffolding is falling, we see nails popping out. These are clearly manufactured nails and not cut nails of the type used in the colonial period. Also, the nails are of a silver color, while nails of the colonial period would have a black iron color.

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

When Abigail and Riley notice two of Ian's thugs chasing them, Riley says, "Time to run", but his lips do not move.
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When the FBI agents enter his father's home (finding his father tied up), the agents enter through the front door, and presenting handguns. What you hear is a click like a safety being released on a pistol. They're carrying Glocks. There is no external safety release on a Glock.
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Character error 

Abigail's password into the preservation room is supposed to be VALLEYFORGE, an eleven letter password. When she enters her password, she only types eight characters, one being an N and one being the space bar, neither of which are found in VALLEYFORGE. This goof was rumored to have been fixed in the DVD release, but is intact on the Blu-Ray version.
Throughout the movie, it is said the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th, 1776, when in fact, it was only adopted on that day. It was not actually engrossed on parchment, and signed until August 2nd, 1776. The copy that was signed on July 4th was a "rough journal" as it was called, and then only signed by John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress and Charles Thomson, the Secretary.
When Ben is hiding from Abigail in the gift shop, he ends up buying a Declaration replica using his credit card. Throughout this scene, Riley is known to be listening in to Ben's conversations, so he would have heard at least Ben's side of that transaction. Yet later when discussing their options in the park, Riley expresses surprise about the credit card transaction.
Ben mentions that 55 men signed the Declaration of Independence. 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence.
When Riley has to start the van during the getaway from the National Archives, you can see that he slams his feet down on the brake and the accelerator at the same time.
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Continuity 

When Ben hands Abigail the champagne glass, she holds it near the bottom. When Ben is in the bathroom testing her fingerprints, the prints are near the top of the glass.
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Young Ben Gates has brown eyes while the adult Ben Gates has blue eyes.
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The length (and even existence) of Riley's goatee varies throughout the movie.
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When Sadusky and his men are arresting Ben, the back of Riley and Abigail's heads can be seen leaving the scene, and a moment later, they can be seen turning away from them, waiting for their cue over Sadusky's shoulder. However, a moment later they come around the corner and witness Ben's arrest and then turn and leave again, for the third time total.
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As Ben and Riley enter Abigail's office to speak to her about the Declaration of Independence, Abigail's assistant can be seen leaving the office behind them. The camera than points at Abigail. As the camera points back to Ben and Riley, the assistant is seen leaving the office the same way she left the first time.
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While telling young Ben about the Templar treasure, John Adam Gates says 'my grandfathers grandfather, Thomas Gates...' But in the sequel Thomas Gates was shown to be his grandfather and his son Charles Carroll Gates was John Adams Gates son Patrick Gates grandfather.
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When the Museum Kid is bringing individual letters from the Silence Dogood Letters to Riley, he (the boy) runs in front of a brown Ford Taurus wagon. Moments later, when Museum Kid runs out and crosses the street to give Riley the last four letters, he runs in front of the same station wagon.
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When Riley is first shown in the treasure room looking at the "big... bluish-green man with a strange looking goatee", there is already a smudge in the dust on the chest of the statue. The scene cuts to Riley, then back to the him and the statue. The statue now has an even layer of undisturbed dust with no smudge. Riley then hugs the statue and his cheek rests on the chest of the statue. He is not shown moving away from the statue, but the smudge could have only been left by his cheek.
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As Ben and Ian are talking about whether there is a next clue while in the lantern cave, the Declaration changes places multiple times as Abigail holds it. It changes from no case to brown case to white case and finally ends in the brown case on Abigail's shoulder.
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In Philadelphia the declaration is lost to Ian in 2 parts, Ben loses the carrying case to a henchman on a rooftop and Abigail loses the tube with the document to Ian. When Ben and Ian are in trinity church they open the carrying case and remove the document without the tube it had been stored in.
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When Riley is down in the Archives-Navy Memorial Metro stop to tap the security system, the shot that he records of the preservation room shows the Declaration already there and covered, as Ben later finds it. However, Riley has not yet set off the temperature sensors, thus the document has not been taken down to the Preservation Room yet.
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When Ian's henchman is shooting at Ben as he is ducking behind the red van outside the gala, he shoots out one of the headlights on the passenger side. When the chase is coming to an end, after Ian realizes that he has a replica in his possession, they show the van with both headlights in tact. Only one headlight is lit (drivers side) but the glass on the passenger side is intact.
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When Ian kidnaps Abigail after the Declaration is stolen, Ian asks her, "and just who might you be?" In that shot, his hair is completely dry. In the very next shot of Ian, not more than five seconds later, his hair looks to be soaked in sweat or water with the rest of him appearing to be dry.
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When the lunch wagon driven by Ian's gang crashes into a barricade, the windshield cracks. In later scenes, the windshield is NOT cracked.
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When Riley is in the small room in the subway, he cuts a rough hole in the tube holding the security camera wires. When the camera shows the hole again, it is a smooth cut with no rough or out of shape edges.
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When Abigail runs into the man on the bike, she drops the tube containing the Declaration into the road. It rolls past two manhole covers before the camera cuts back to Abigail. when the camera cuts back once again to the tube, it has come to rest on top of one of the manhole covers. In addition, the tube is kind of beat up and dirty with a split on the end of the cap. But, when Ian picks up the tube it is in pristine condition with no split in the end.
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In trinity church, when Ian passes the Benjamin Franklin glasses to Ben, the color lenses are raised. On the next shot, Ben takes from Ian and wears the glass, the position of color lenses are changed.
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When everyone reaches the 'dead end' room at the bottom of the winding staircase, Ben has the tube with the Declaration of Independence over his shoulder, he slung it there after saving it from falling into the pit. After they start talking about having reached a dead end, it disappears from over his shoulder. When Ian and his henchman turn to go back out, Riley is holding it and when Ian is talking to Ben from the platform, Abigail has the Delcaration of Independence and Riley just has the tube.
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When Ian is trying to solve the riddle, he holds up the his notepad and asks "Why is this word capitalized?", the pen in his hand is vertical and he is pointing to the word 'Silence' with his finger. A moment later the pen is horizontal and he is using it to point to word.
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After ascertaining that the time was almost 3:00, as stated by the clerk from reading Gate's watch, the scene shortly after, where Howe's associates are chasing Chase and Riley and those two split up and Chase goes into the deli area, the wall clock (just before Chase jumps over the counter) shows the time as 2:37.
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When trying to convince Abigail that there is a map on the Declaration of Independence in her office, she goes from sitting forward in her chair to leaning back in the chair without moving between shots.
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When Riley is sitting outside the Franklin Institute, retrieving the next clue by the Museum Kid, he puts a pile of papers that were previously seen under the paper he is writing the clue on, next to him on the bench. Then in the next shot, in which there is a close up of the paper that holds the clue, they are back under it.
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At the end of the film when Riley climbs into his Ferrari, it is alternately sunny/wet between shots.
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In the exterior shot of the suburban-looking Urban Outfiters the store has one floor, but the register is on the second floor of the central Philadelphia location.
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Before the Intrepid air and space museum scene an overview aerial of the west side piers there are no other ships shown or any cruise ships docked at the cruise terminals (to the left of the intrepid). When the sight seeing helicopter shows up the camera zooms in on it and while it is flying you can clearly see a Carnival Cruises ship docked at the cruise terminal which is to the north of the Intrepid. When the camera zooms back out the Carnival Cruises ship is no longer docked at the cruise terminal.
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In the beginning of the film, they say there is a phrase written on the back of the declaration of independence. later when using lemon juice to reveal the map, there is no phrase. It is blank.
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The postcard carousel in the gift shop as Ben Gates is hiding from Abigail.
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On The Charlotte, in the cargo hold, Ian's hat has a design on it "looks like mountains". The amount of the design that we see continually changes throughout the scene - and continues to change as Ian is escaping in the vehicle before The Charlotte blows up.
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When discussing the Pass and Stow riddle in Urban Outfitters, Abigail is clearly leaning on the counter with one hand as Ben says, "... the vision to see the treasure past must refer to a way to read the map". In the next shot, Abigail's arms are crossed and she is standing straight up.
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When Ben escapes from the police and he's meeting with Ian and they are talking outside the church, one scene there are cars in the background. Then the camera turns back to look at Ian and then goes back to Ben and there are no cars.
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Just after Ben mixes the fluorescent marker liquid, he reaches into the glass clearly holding the George Washington campaign button. The scene then cuts to him dipping his bare fingers and the button has vanished.
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The length of Ian's hair changes throughout the movie.
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When the tube with the Declaration inside is dropped in the street, the tube changes places multiple times between shots.
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Crew or equipment visible 

When Ben visits his father after stealing the Declaration and they argue, there are reflections of video screens in his father's glasses.
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In the tunnels below the church, Patrick Gates appears to be lit from the torch he is holding. When he turns toward the camera, a square diffused light is reflected in his glasses and is the source of the "torch" light.
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At the end of the film Riley is sitting in the Ferrari and says, "I like the house," to Ben. He puts on his sunglasses and when he turns his head towards the camera, three crew members and the camera are reflected in them.
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Errors in geography 

When Riley goes down into the Archives-Navy Memorial Metro stop to tap the security system, the train passing behind him is clearly a New York subway train and not a DC Metro train.
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When Abigail and Riley are being chased from Independence Hall, one of the bad guys radios in to say they are on "5th & Chestnut". A second later, they are running into Reading Terminal Market which is at least 10 blocks away. Then they run out of Reading Terminal Market, and right into City Hall. That's about 5 blocks. So, basically they ran about a mile in 2 minutes.
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After Ben and Riley leave the National Archives, they are next seen on the steps of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial continuing their conversation. The Lincoln Memorial is at least 2 miles from the National Archives, and at least 1 mile from any subway station. It seems very unlikely that they would have had no substantial conversation on the long walk.
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While they're driving over the bridge into the city of Philadelphia, they had been up and driving all night, yet they're clearly driving into the sun while on the bridge. That bridge crosses the Delaware River from NJ, thus, they're driving west into the setting sun, not the rising sun as the movie's timeline would have you believe. This was changed for the Blu-Ray release, by having the Philadelphia text added to the scene, instead of on the door to Patrick's home.
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The first shots of the group once inside Trinity Church reveal that they are actually inside the First Congregational Church in Los Angeles, California, USA. The pipe organ in the background does not match the one inside Trinity church.
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When Riley and Abigail are in the café talking to Ben, a bus is seen with "Crosstown" spelled out as its route. There are no buses in Manhattan that only say Crosstown. The bus would have a number before the route designation, which would show the street it travels on and its destination.
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In the shot outside of the Franklin Institute, when they boy is retrieving the clues for Riley, a SEPTA bus passes by. The bus is the '108 Airport' bus. SEPTA route 108 runs no where near the Franklin Institute. It is a mostly suburban route.
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In addition to the error of the SEPTA 108: Airport stopping in front of the Franklin Institute, there's not a single SEPTA unit that passes or stops in front of the Franklin Institute.
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When they are at the Charlotte, there are mountains in the background in multiple directions. They alleged they are in an area where the ice pack is "semi-solid" and shifting. Clearly, they are in a valley, completely surrounded by mountains, inland. While it is reasonable that a ship wreck would move with the ice pack, it is not reasonable that it would have shifted enough to bring a ship wreck that far inland.
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Factual errors 

When the characters go underground, Ben pulls a torch off of the wall and lights it, and it burns instantly and brightly. Also when the heroes find the treasure room, a 'river of fire is lit'. There is no substance the 18th century colonials would have had access to which could have both produced instant flames of that kind *and* had it's potency last for 200+ years.
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In the Charlotte, when Ben smears blood on the pipe stem and rolls the images onto the paper, they are printed in "positive," as if the symbols had been carved as raised bumps on the pipe, like a linoleum or wood cut. It would have been almost impossible for someone to have carved symbols that small on the circumference of such a small pipe stem in this relief style. Besides that, Ben refers to the carving as an "engraving," which is a gouging-in, or intaglio style of carving: a much easier and more common way to have carved something of this sort. The resulting rolled image would have been a solid field background with the symbols showing as dropped out, or clean paper in the field.
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Lemon juice is used to create invisible ink, not expose it, and it turns brown when heated; it does not fade away again as it cools.
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The first Trinity Church burned to the ground when the British set the Great Fire of New York in 1776. The church was not rebuilt until the late 1780s.
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One would not be able to generate false alarm on a heat sensor with a visible laser because of the laser characteristics: if it emits a visible beam, it does not contain IR.
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After Ben escapes from the FBI by jumping into the river, one of Ian's men hands him a regulator from his scuba tank. Ben puts it to his mouth and immediately begins to breath through it, forgetting to purge the regulator of water first. In fact, he should have inhaled a mouthful of water.
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When entering the vault under Trinity Church, they light torches that have been there for more than 200 years. Oil would not have remained flammable for that long.
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The movie's depiction of the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom (where the Declaration of Independence is displayed at the National Archives) has several inaccuracies, including: the brightness of the room (the room is kept dark to help preserve the documents); the location of the security guards (the movie depicts one standing to the left of the Declaration, whereas they are posted to the left and right side of the Constitution); the absence of two signs identifying the people in the Barry Faulkner murals on the walls; the absence of holes in the walls where some actual security sensors are stored; and the size of the rooms adjacent to the Rotunda.
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When Riley hugs the big bluish-green man with the strange goatee the statue shakes considerably. The statue was most likely supposedly made out of Jade. That amount of jade would be of considerable weight and incapable of shaking that much, if at all, when being touched by a human being.
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When Ian's gang is seeking access to the Archives by entering the utility tunnel in the street beneath their van, one man with two hooks and a chain easily lifts the utility grate from the street by himself. The grate also is shown to be very thin gage metal and sounds it as it is removed. Any utility grates and castings placed in traffic are normally very heavy so as to be structurally sound under traffic loads. There would be no way for a man to easily lift such a grate in the manner he did, nor would such a light duty grate be placed in traffic.
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When Gates and his party enter the Charolette's cargo hold there are cannon mounted and barrels of gun powder. Ships did not mount cannons in cargo holds, but rather on gun decks designed to support the weight and recoil. Also, the decks of cargo holds were below the water line, making it impossible to have a gun port. Further, gunpowder was stored in magazines in all ships for safety. Leaving it in a cargo hold would be an invitation for a disaster.
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When Ian and his henchmen are attempting to steal the Declaration of Independence, one of his men shots a security guard with a Taser. The security guard is then seen unconscious. Being shocked by a Taser does not render a person unconscious. Once the shock cycle is over, there are actually little side effects from a Taser.
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Ben borrows a $100 bill from a cashier to read the clock on the tower of Independence Hall on the reverse side of the bill. Ben says the time reads 2:22. It doesn't. It reads 10:30 on the clock on the tower of Independence Hall on the reverse side of a $100 bill.
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When one of Ians goons is jamming Bens microphone, he is using a Stalker LIDAR gun, otherwise known as a laser gun. Which is used to detect speed using laser technology for speed enforcement by law enforcement and in no way would jam any sort of radio frequency.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

Early on, when Ben talks about the 'Iron Pen,' he states that fifty-five men signed the Declaration of Independence, when, in fact, fifty-six men signed it. One signature was not added until 1781; the clue was written before then. The writers were going to explain this, but decided this information was unnecessary for the story, so it was left out.
The film mentions many times the Freemasons were trying to hide the treasure from the British, but Britain was where Freemasonary originally came from, and where it was still based at the time. However, prior to the American Revolution, colonial Freemasonry had begun to move away from its connections with British masonry, rejecting, for example, the need of the London Grand Lodge to approve new lodges. This trend accelerated during the Revolution as ties of Masonic brotherhood proved more fragile than temporal political allegiances.
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Plot holes 

When Ben determines that the shadow cast from Independence Hall must be viewed at 2:22 PM, there is no consideration given as to the time of year. For the shadow to be cast in exactly the correct spot, the shadow would have to be viewed on the same day of the year as the clue was viewed.
On the day the heroes visit the bell tower, it was not Daylight Savings Time as Riley explained. When the young FBI agents are showing the security guards at the Franklin Institute a picture of Gates in the Archive gift shop, the date on the top of the report is "11/2/05". This would put them in Philadelphia on November 3, 2005. Daylight Savings Time ended on Sunday morning, October 30, in 2005.
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Revealing mistakes 

The Charlotte is completely buried in the ice and snow, yet when it is shown about 1/3 uncovered there are no piles of ice or snow anywhere around it and what we can see of the ship now appears to be simply sticking up out of the ice plain.
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After crawling through the "creepy, crawly" space where the coffin was removed, all characters emerged without a speck of dust, dirt or cobwebs on their clothing. The knees on their pants should have been filthy.
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When Riley and Abigail were in Philly and just lost the Declaration, they were outside somewhere discussing what to do, and Abigail clearly has a wig on. Just for that one scene. Her hair is matted down and tucked behind her ear and appears to be longer.
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Spoilers 

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Continuity 

Near the end, when Riley Poole is sitting in his Ferrari, several shots show the car wet, like it was just rained on. In other shots, it is perfectly dry.
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Continuity 

In the last scene the closeup of Abby has her looking over her right shoulder; immediately after in the pan out of her and Ben, she is looking over her left shoulder.
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Continuity 

When Ben and the gang are standing in the treasure room, Ben lights the chain of fire. It goes to a shot overlooking the room in which the whole room is lit. Then it switches to a shot where the light is still moving towards the back of the room. It goes back to the original shot where the whole room is lit again.
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Continuity 

During the spiral staircase scene, Ian's hair alternates several times between wet and dry. When the group first emerges into the shaft, Ian's hair is dry, then briefly damp just before the collapse, dry during the collapse, then damp after the collapse before returning to dry again.
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Continuity 

When Gates and the rest enter the antechamber of the 'real' treasure room the torches on either side of the entrance are already lit.
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Factual errors 

The treasure room is many stories under the Trinity Church that is built near the Hudson River which would flood any caverns below the level of the river.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

While explaining the importance of the lantern outside the treasure room Patrick Gates incorrectly states that a Thomas Newton hung the lanterns in the Old North Church for Paul Revere to see. The name of the church sexton that hung the two lanterns was Robert Newman. However, this is part of a ruse. Realizing that Ian is British and may not be well versed in American history, Gates decides to send him on a wild goose chase. The incorrect name is obviously a test to see if Ian would fall for the ruse and go to the Old North Church, thus sparing their lives.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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