Gates finds clues in the HMS Resolute desks following references in John Wilkes Booth's diary. Yet, Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 and Booth was killed days after that. Both Resolute desks were not commissioned until 1888, as a gift to President Hayes from Queen Victoria. Therefore, the whole plot of the movie is impossible.
Never well-funded or organized, the the Knights of the Golden Circle dissolved before the end of the Civil War. In fact, the membership expelled the group's main founder in 1860 due to his sheer ineptitude.
Just before Lincoln is shot by Booth (in 1865), he closes the door to the theater box and we see a bird's eye view of the box. There is a lighting fixture on the far left that has an incandescent bulb in it.
When Ben Gates is speaking at the conference in the beginning of the movie, the camera is panning back and forth around the one column. On one of the first pans around the column, if you look closely, you will notice that the voice of Gates does not match his lips in the shot.
When the fire engines are arriving at Buckingham Palace we hear a US style siren. LFB fire engines don't make the deep electric horn sound like US ones. The siren sound would have been dubbed on in ADR, this is because when using emergency vehicles in the UK for filming it's not permitted to use the siren on public roads as the sound is easily dubbed on after wards, although permission is granted to use lights and display insignia for visual effect.
Ben Gates says that the expression, "His name is mud," has its origin in Dr Samuel Mudd, who set John Wilkes Booth's leg and enabled his escape after Abraham Lincoln's assassination, and was thereby taken to be a conspirator. Contrary to this common misconception, the expression dates to the 1820s, some 40 years before the assassination.
In the scene at the egg roll, the child says that Booth crossed the only bridge open out of Washington to escape, saying it was an example of a conspiracy. However the Long Bridge which Booth crossed that night was indeed closed at the time of his crossing. Booth was a well known celebrity in Washington and simply charmed the guard in charge (who was unaware of the assassination) into letting him across after hours.
During the infiltration of Buckingham Palace, Gates states that Queen Elizabeth II was not in residence due to the absence of a flag flying there. In fact there is always a flag flying at the palace. Prior to the death of Princess Diana the presence of the Queen was indicated by the flying of a flag, however at the time of Diana's death the palace wished to fly a flag at half mast as a mark of respect. Since then The Union flag is flown when the Queen is not in residence and the Royal Standard is flown when she is. This allows for a flag to be flown at half mast during a time of mourning.
While being chased through London, Ben asks Abigail if her phone has a camera so that he can take a picture of the wooden plank found in the resolute desk. She says that her phone's camera is broken and hence they have to use the traffic camera to get a picture of the plank. Riley fails to notice/mention however that his MacBook has a camera right in the top bezel.
In the first National Treasure film, Ben's grandfather John Adams Gates tells Ben that Charles Carroll gave the Charlotte clue to "my grandfather's grandfather, Thomas Gates" in 1832. This means there are five generations of Gates's between Thomas and Ben. However, in the second film, Thomas Gates is shown in 1865 to have a son, Charles, whom Patrick Gates (Ben's father) says is his grandfather - which means Thomas Gates was really only John Gates's grandfather, not his grandfather's grandfather. Even considering there may have been two Thomases in the Gates family tree (the one shown in the first movie and the one in the second), the situation is unrealistic; to satisfy John Gates's historical description, both the first Thomas Gates, his son, and the second Thomas Gates would have had to have their first child at age eleven.
When Mitch Wilkinson's team (with Ben's mother prisoner) are climbing the stairs to Mount Rushmore, they are looking at the traffic camera picture of Ben holding the 1st wooden carving. While they potentially could have had a copy from Ben's mother, they had the original for her to translate.
When Abigail Chase talks about the seal which refers to the President's Book of Secrets, she mistakenly says that the scroll the eagle holds is instead of the olive branch, which can clearly be seen in the eagle's right claw (to our left). The scroll is actually replacing the arrows that are usually in the eagle's left claw (on our right).
Ben and Patrick show Emily the picture of the plank from Buckingham Palace, saying they think the plank might be Olmec, Emily agrees, replying "definately Proto-Zoquean". Proto-Zoquean followed Epi-Olmec, which followed Olmec.
When Ben is trying to decrypt the Playfair Cipher, he says the keyword must be 5 letters long and tries a variety of 5 letter words. Actually, when using this encryption method the keyword/key-phrase can be shorter or longer provided it makes a 5 x 5 table of non-repeating letters.
Even though neither Ben nor Patrick nor Emily mention the Cascajal Block - a carved slab with 62 glyphs which dates to the Olmec's San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán phase - as to why they think the plank is Olmec, the glyphs on the Block that match the glyphs on some Olmec artifacts have never been identified as writing, and the rest of the glyphs on the Block are unknown and indecipherable. So, Emily is wrong when she says that the plates in the City of Gold will help decipher the Olmec language.
The Knights of the Golden Circle was a secret order of anti-abolitionists founded by Northerners in 1854 who wanted to invade Mexico, and turn it, the South, the West Indies, and part of Central America into a slave empire encompassing an area 2,400 miles in diameter (hence "the Golden Circle"), not a group of Southerns trying to subvert Union troops as Ben claims in his lecture. The order was reorganized as the Order of American Knights in 1863, then as the Order of the Sons of Liberty in 1864.
When the FBI is attempting to find a spot for the President's birthday party, a shot is shown of a computer screen with possible sites. One of the hotels is the Denby Hotel; however, in the shot, it is spelled "Denbe."
When Ben, Patrick and Riley are trying to figure out the key to the cipher, a Red Bull can is clearly seen to Riley's right. However, in the rest of the shots during this scene, it mysteriously disappears.
When they're all in the Mercedes using the backup camera to guide them through the alley, and they come to a stop for a bunch of dogs, one of them licks the camera. On the screen it shows the dog licking the camera directly, but from the outside it shows the dog licking the rear bumper. On that model Mercedes the backup camera is directly beneath the trunk lid, so the dog wasn't actually licking the camera.
In the beginning, the Booth diary shows the Playfair cipher as: ME IK QO TX CQ TE ZX CO MW QC TE HN FB IK ME HA KR QC UN GI KM AV. Which translates to: La Boulaye lady will x lead to Cibola temples of gold x. The 'x's being filler. When they find the letter pairs on the diary page it shows six letter pairs: ME IK QO __ CP TE ZX. When Riley is first working on the computer trying to solve the cipher it shows these same six pairs. But after Ben tells him the key is DEATH and Riley enters it, the next scene of the computer shows a different program running and the cipher letters have changed to: QF JU WJ __ AK EH, only five pairs.
When Ben and Abigail are investigating the Resolute Desk in the Queen's Study in Buckingham Palace, they pull the drawers out to try one combination. When that is unsuccessful, they try another. You can see them pulling out the drawers again, even though they were never pushed back in.
In the scene where Ben skids the rental car and hits the double bus, the car supposedly gets badly dented on the left side. In the next scene, you see that the car has a huge dent on the right side and in the scene after that, there are no dents on either side.
While Ben is in his father's study, talking to Patrick, there is a clearly visible map of Massachusetts directly behind Patrick. When the angle changes, the map behind Patrick continuously changes from a map of Massachusetts to a different map. This change happens several times throughout the conversation.
At the beginning of the chase scene through London, the backup camera of the Mercedes flips up and 2 people walk out of the building on the right. When the camera switches to the view out the back window, the 2 people walk out again. In a later shot, the 2 people walk out a third time.
When John Wilkes Booth first hands his diary to Thomas Gates in the saloon, there are very clearly four names above Thomas Gates' name on the left hand page. But when Thomas Gates looks at the diary, there are only three names above his. In the next scene at the Civilian Heroes ceremony, the partially burned left hand diary page again has four names above Thomas Gates' name.
When Ben prepares to put his hand into the bird at Mount Rushmore, he does not have a watch on, but, the first time his puts his hand in, we see a watch. When he puts his hand in again, the watch is gone, then, in subsequent shots, it moves up and down his wrist.
In the London car chase, Wilkinson's Land Rover pulls up on the side of the bridge after he punctures his tire. The camera then zooms in on his front bumper bar slightly hitting a construction barrier, but in the next shot from a distance, the car is clearly nowhere near the barrier.
Ben does not look through his camera's viewer when he takes a picture of the plank holder in the president's desk, and the camera is several inches away, yet the viewer later displays a perfect close-up of the secret seal.
At the beginning of the chase outside the Library of Congress, Ben jumps into the back of Abigail's Mercedes SUV by putting the trunk hatch up. However, in the next shot, when they jump out into the street, the trunk hatch is closed.
When Patrick is examining the picture of the plank on Riley's laptop, they show the back of the laptop and it is silver, but when they show the screen of the laptop, it is black. Also, at the end of the scene, there is a wider angle shot showing the entire room and everyone in it, here you can see the laptop back has mysteriously changed to black.
At Mount Rushmore, when they find the secret entrance to the city of gold, the hidden doorway has deep water at its lip; as the rocks fall away to reveal the entrance, they tumble into the water and sink. But then we see the group enter the doorway from an angle inside the entrance, and it is now fronted by dry land, and they have to clamber over the (now-dry) fallen rocks.
When the Booth diary page is shown during the Civil War era scene at the beginning of the film, the names are written on the left page with the cipher information on the right. Later, when pulled out of the fire, only the bottom of the page is burned. However, when the page is presented during the speech at the Civilian Heroes ceremony, the entire right side of the page is burned. Also, when they match the page to the diary, Patrick Gates says that the section after Thomas Gates' name is burned off. However, when matched to the diary, the edges of the page are no longer burned.
At the beginning of the car chase, Ben puts the Mercedes in reverse, and we see the illuminated reverse lights (white). Yet later, when he brakes and the dog licks the camera, we see the back of the car and the reverse lights are not only off, but the entire taillight design has changed (the reverse lights are replaced by red brake lights). Ben doesn't take the car out of reverse gear until the next scene, so the reverse lights should still be on.
When Ben breaks into Abigail's house, the camera angle gradually moves upward. If you look toward the front door while the camera shot is moving you can see crew members (most likely camera men) scuffling by quickly to not be caught on camera.
In the shot from inside the cave before they enter, there's a silhouette on the left side of the screen. After they all have entered the cave the figure is still visible and actually moves at the bottom of the screen.
Several desks were indeed made from the dismantled timbers of the HMS Resolute. One of those desks is the desk sitting in the Oval Office, which has been used by just about every President since Rutherford B. Hayes, who first received it as a gift from Queen Victoria in 1880. The twin to this desk, however, does not, nor did it ever, reside in the Queen's Palace. It currently resides in Windsor Castle.
During the scene at Mt. Rushmore where it shows them climbing to a lake behind the sculpture. There is no lake directly behind Mt. Rushmore. The lake is actually Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park 5.7mi SSW.
When Riley is in the restroom at Buckingham Palace, the toilet in the booth that he chose is clearly an American-style toilet, and not a British toilet that would normally be present at Buckingham Palace. (The scene was filmed in a hotel in Los Angeles.)
When the group see an altar in the City of Gold, and Emily exclaims that that "this will really open up the study of the pre-Columbian language", the writing visible is Chinese seal script, completely unrelated to Olmec.
If Estevanico was taken to Cibola by Native Americans they would have walked, the journey from Florida to South Dakota would take months to complete much less walking back to be picked up by a Spanish ship and taken back to Europe. Total time would be around a year after the shipwreck occurred.
When Ben leaves the President's birthday at Mount Vernon, he tells Riley to meet him at the Library of Congress in 20 minutes. However, the Library of Congress is a 17 mile drive from Mount Vernon, including about 8 miles on local roads in Virginia and Washington, DC. A typical trip would take 30 minutes or more, not including parking.
The car chase from Buckingham Palace shows Ben crossing the Thames over Westminster Bridge with the Houses of Parliament in the background. The chase then continues cutting various shots from Bishopsgate, Fenchurch Street, Threadneedle Street and at one point destroying a statue in Holborn. Ben then crosses Southwark Bridge from the north bank throws the piece of wood off the bridge. None of the places shown are in any geographical order.
The Statue that Riley and Ben go to is located on the Allee des Cygnes, about 1.5 kilometers downriver from the Eiffel Tower; it faces southwest and towards the Statue in New York City. In the shots where Riley is piloting the toy helicopter and Ben is chatting with the police officers, the Eiffel Tower looks much closer than approximately 1.5 kilometers, because this was filmed on the Pont de Bir-Hakeim Bridge, about 750 meters from the Tower. Finally, the Statue on the Allee des Cygnes faces away from the Pont de Grenelle and is much further away from the Eiffel Tower than shown (a fact seen clearly on Riley's remote while inspecting the torch). The Statue at the Luxembourg Gardens is Frederic Auguste Bartholdi's personal model that he donated to the Gardens.
When Ben and Riley are in Paris and flying the toy chopper you can see the Eiffel Tower on the screen on Riley's control. In the next scene when Ben talks with the French police you can see the Eiffel Tower on the other side of the bridge.
Buckingham Palace is only open to visitors at the end of August and the beginning of September, when Queen Elizabeth II is visiting other palaces. Yet less than three days after breaking into Buckingham, and stealing the plank from the first desk, the treasure hunters attend the Easter celebration (March or April) at the White House.
Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln appear to be the only occupants of the presidential box at Ford's Theatre, but Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée Clara Harris also sat in the double box with the President and First Lady. After shooting President Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth stabbed Major Rathbone in the arm before jumping down to the stage; this action which is omitted in the film. The film also shows the audience reacting in terror to Booth's appearance, in fact they assumed it was part of the play, and did not realize until several minutes later that a murder had been committed.
While in the City of Gold, Riley handles a very large gold brick with one hand and easily places it in his bag. A gold brick as large as the one pictured would weigh in the neighborhood of 150lbs and would require two or more people to lift.
At Mount Rushmore, Ben and Abigail are seen drinking out of paper cups with plastic lids and straws. To reduce waste and pollution, National Park Service sites do not use plastic lids or straws at their refreshment stands or cafés.
In the car chase scene, beer kegs are stacked on their side for transport and roll out of the back of the delivery truck. Kegs are stacked upright for this reason or if on their sides they are on wood pallets and covered with shrink wrap to prevent this from happening.
As Ben and Abigail leave Buckingham Palace, there are two footguards at the gate. The plumes on the side of their bearskins are red but these are worn by the Coldstream Guards while the uniform tunics have the button configuration of the Grenadier Guards.
The book says that George Custer's "last stand" was the result of his search for gold. Custer was ordered to go to the Black Hills as part of a larger contingency to capture the remaining free Indians in that area.
When Ben is in the Oval Office a grandfather clock can be seen behind the Resolute Desk. The clock's pendulum is not moving meaning the clock is not running. The White House employs at least person whose job it is to wind all the clocks in the Executive Mansion.
The book storage areas of the Library of Congress are not open to patrons. Books are requested in the main reading room and delivered by LoC workers. Gates and his companions would not be able to personally retrieve a book or enter a storage area. Further, since the President would have had to turn his book over to the LoC staff for filing, the LoC would not make a very good place to keep such an item secret.
The pin the Knights of the Golden Circle member wears features the head of what looks suspiciously like the Statue of Liberty, which makes sense, given the film's plot, but, in actuality, the Knights of the Golden Circle did not use a woman as one of its symbols.
The account of Estevanico in the book is fiction. Estevanico and his master were two of four survivors of a 1528 (not 1527, as stated in the book) Florida expedition (which did not shipwreck, as stated in the book), and beached on present-day Follett's Island, Texas on a makeshift raft. Upon their return to Spain, they related the stories from the natives about seven cities of gold, which seemed to confirm a legend from the mid-12th century: in order to protect their sacred religious relics from the conquering Moors, seven bishops fled Mérida to a then-unknown land to hide them; the hiding places eventually grew to seven cities of untold riches, one of which was called "Cibola". Estevanico did return to the New World, as the book says, but as a guide in a 1539 expedition to find the cities, not as its leader.
When Riley is flying his radio controlled helicopter towards the Lady Liberty statue in Paris, the helicopter sounds are from a full sized passenger helicopter, and not the sounds of a small model helicopter.
After his Ferrari is impounded Riley states that the taxes on 5 million dollars is 6 million dollars. According to the first National Treasure he got 1/2 of 1 percent of the value of the Templar Treasure, Gates said the value was 10 billion dollars. Which means Riley would have gotten 50 million dollars, not 5 million. However, Gates' statement on the value was just an estimation.
The film implies that the Knights of the Golden Circle was engaged by the Confederacy to find the City of Gold. There isn't any evidence that the Confederacy engaged the Knights of the Golden Circle in any capacity, but this movie series is about previously unknown history coming to light.
When John Wilkes Booth is told to leave the saloon that he is in, just before the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, it shows him traveling to Ford's Theater by horse. In fact, the saloon that Booth visited just before the assassination is actually right next door adjoining Ford's Theater and now the present location of the Hard Rock Cafe-DC. However, it is an historical fact that he rode away from Ford's Theater.
The President tells our heroes to look in the Library of Congress and gives them a call number that begins with XY. There is no X (and therefore, no XY schedule) in the Library of Congress classification system. This is the equivalent of the 555 phone numbers in Movieland.
When Gates kidnaps the President at Mount Vernon, the Maryland State Police are patrolling the water where the elder Gates pretends to fish. Mount Vernon is located just outside of Alexandria, Virginia. However, the Potomac River belongs to the state of Maryland. Moreover, given that the President of the United States was at Mt. Vernon, there would have been an increased number of police and secret service patrolling the area during the evening. Therefore there could have been Maryland State Police and Virgina State Police on the river that evening.
Though the movie begins on the night of Lincoln's assassination in April, 1865, the cipher page from that scene points to a clue (Laboulaye Lady) whose key information is a quote dated 1876. This date ends up being used as part of a combination in the next clue.
Throughout the entire London car chase, not one single police car is seen, despite the shots being fired, vehicles being wrecked, dozens of traffic violations and tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to property. Given that this is supposedly in the centre of London, where on any given day you can see more than a dozen police cars just driving along simply by standing in the same place for ten minutes, the lack of police presence is fairly implausible.
During the car chase, Ben runs a red light to get a photo of the plank. That photo must be from a speed camera, not a red light camera. The text at the top says that the speed limit is 70 km/h. In the UK speeds are measured in mph, not km/h. In most of London the speed limit is 30 mph or 48 km/h, not 70. When they were crossing Westminster bridge, the clock on St. Stephen's Clock Tower (aka Big Ben) showed about 8:20, and yet the timestamp in the photo says 13:37, more than 5 hours later.
The missing burned page to the diary was being fitted to check for a match. The loose page was burnt on all sides and thus would not have fit the book's page so perfectly. It's as if the page was cut, someone painted the edge and fit it back into the book.
While sitting in the Gates' household using his laptop, the apple on Riley Poole's Black MacBook is not lit up, yet Riley is working on the laptop. The apple on MacBooks lights up when the screen is on, because the light to illuminate the symbol comes from the light used to illuminate the screen. Therefore, MacBook Poole is working on is asleep or turned off.
During the scene when the police and FBI enter the Library of Congress ground floor and start to fan out, several of the officers (particularly the first officer pointing where to go) can be seen to be making 'guns' with their hands instead of having prop guns in hand.
The goof items below may give away important plot points.
At the end of the movie when Riley Poole gets his Ferrari again, you can clearly hear him letting go of the clutch without having the car properly in gear. At the same time you can see that the car has F1 paddle-shifters on the steering wheel, which means that the car doesn't have a manual clutch, making the mis-shift sound impossible for this car.
Dr. Appleton says that the Indian language is Olmec. However, the Olmec people inhabited south-central Mexico, and their language nor culture never reached 2,000 miles north to present-day South Dakota. Therefore, the entire premise of the city of gold is misplaced by a continent.
The Ferrari shown in the beginning of the film as being impounded is a Ferrari F430. The Ferrari that Riley purchases at the end of the first National Treasure is actually a Ferrari 360, this comes into play again at the end when it is returned from the President as a 360 again.
As the walls of the City of Gold burst and water begins to fill up, the group gets drenched. Yet, as they enter the chamber while following the water currents moments later, Wilkinson is dry from the waist up.
When the group is escorted to talk to the President after finding the treasure, the guard leading Ben by the arm has no gloves on, the camera pans out and comes back, and the guard is wearing a glove, another pan and back again, and the glove is gone.
At the end of the movie, when Ben Gates walks with Abigail Chase and sits on the wall (night scene at Mt. Rushmore after Riley is asked to autograph his book), a crew member's hand is seen at the lower right of Ben Gates on the other side of the wall, directing Nicolas Cage on which way/where to look.
In the film President Calvin Coolidge is alleged to have built Mount Rushmore as a way of hiding away the City of Gold. In reality, Coolidge gave the go-ahead for the monument after a three-month fishing vacation wherein the locals replenished the fish nightly, as a way of lobbying for a tourist attraction. It worked: Mount Rushmore attracts an average of two million visitors a year. This is simply a movie which prefers conspiracy theories and secret histories.