Fancy an adventure? These great treasure hunt movies are guaranteed to provide thrills aplenty as we set out to find the loot…
10. Trespass (Hill, 1992)
This little-seen Walter Hill effort from 1992 sees fire fighters Bill Paxton and William Sadler on the hunt for hidden loot in an abandoned warehouse. The only trouble is there’s a vicious street gang led by Ice-T in the area. When the treasure hunters witness Ice-T’s King James carry out an execution, they find themselves the target. Barricaded into one of the abandoned building’s decrepit rooms they have to hold back the gang while searching the room for the riches.
9. National Treasure (Turteltaub, 2004)
Nicolas Cage stars as historian and wannabe adventurer Benjamin Franklin Gates who is driven by a single clue to seek out the so-called national treasure that was hidden by the founding fathers and Freemasons during the American civil war. In one of few films made by Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew in the last decade that’s any good, National Treasure hurtles along at breakneck speed. It neatly weaves American history into a contemporary setting and features a hearty sense of humour, some excellent set pieces and a charismatic support cast.
8. The Mummy (Sommers, 1999)
This fun adventure horror from director Stephen Sommers draws its inspiration from the Boris Karloff-starring 1932 film and sees a lively Brendan Fraser take on the role that would have otherwise gone to Indiana Jones. As adventurer Rick O’Connell he finds himself leading an expedition to find the tomb of the infamous Imhotep, an ancient Egyptian high priest who was mummified alive after embarking on an affair with the mistress of Pharaoh Seti I. An energetic cast make this a lovable potpourri of comedy, action and horror as director Sommers brings us B-movie styling with A-movie finesse.
7. Pirates of the Caribbean (Verbinski, 2003)
Based on the popular Walt Disney theme park ride, Gore Verbinski’s comic swashbuckler sees an inspired Johnny Depp take on the role of perennially inebriated pirate Jack Sparrow. Verbinski’s lavish photography and production values (it’s a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced movie so, unsurprisingly, no expense is spared) is a feast for the eyes as the villains chase the treasure and the good guys chase the girl.
6. Three Kings (O’Russell, 1999)
Acclaimed director David O’Russell, who thrilled critics and audiences with The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook in recent years, made Three Kings in 1999. The film is set at the tail-end of the first Gulf War as three American soldiers form a plot to steal gold bullion from Saddam Hussein. Faced with the Iraqi uprising as well as Saddam loyalists, George Clooney, Mark Walhberg and Ice Cube take on the desert dust to track down the gold. This satirical war film has moments of levity drawn from the director’s dark sense of humour alongside tragedy and high stakes military drama.
5. Romancing The Stone (Zemeckis, 1984)
Clearly taking its cues from Raiders of the Lost Ark (although its earliest incarnation in script form was written by late writer Diane Thomas prior to Raiders’ development), Spielberg protégé Robert Zemeckis brings us the delights of Romancing The Stone. Michael Douglas is the care-free bird exporter Jack T. Colton who happens across a stranded romance novelist (Kathleen Turner’s Joan Wilder) in the Columbian jungle after she takes the wrong bus trying to find her kidnapped sister. The kidnappers want a map leading to hidden treasure that Wilder has in her possession. In return for bringing the map to Columbia, where the treasure is buried somewhere, they will release her sister from captivity. But Wilder’s saviour, the swashbuckling Colton, has other ideas. If they can find the treasure themselves, they’ll have a much better bargaining tool. So the pair head off in search of the precious emerald, pursued by a bumbling small time crook (Danny DeVito) as well as a sadistic General and his gang of well-armed military police.
4. Time Bandits (Gillian, 1981)
This offbeat adventure from the minds of Monty Python alumni Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin mixes two wonderfully entertaining concepts – the treasure hunt and travelling through time. An eleven-year-old child joins a group of dwarves as they use a stolen map to steal riches from a variety of historical figures as they travel through time. This dark, comic tale is made all the more enthralling thanks to the wonderful imagination of its creators.
3. The Goonies (Donner, 1985)
A favourite from my youth, The Goonies is an unsurprising hit with a younger, teenage crowd since it follows a group of adolescent friends searching for treasure in order to save their beloved home town. But the greatest thing about Richard Donner’s The Goonies is that it still works whether you are 13 or 30. Featuring a lovable group of child actors who are all clearly having as much fun as the audience pitted against one of the 1980s best family-friendly villains (Anne Ramsey as Mama Fratelli), you have the basis for something very special. Indeed, The Goonies is simply great fun from beginning to end.
2. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Spielberg, 1989)
Five years after the original Indiana Jones adventure, Spielberg release Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The film was significant because it accepted the flaws present in the first sequel and ensured the same mistakes weren’t made again. Spielberg acknowledged that he went too dark with Temple of Doom. The film lacked the humorous bite evident in “Raiders” while the cartoon villainy of the previous chapter was substituted for a murderous cult that preyed on children. “Last Crusade” brings back the Nazis and lets Indiana Jones do battle with them once again. This time he’s teamed up with his father (played by Sean Connery) in hot pursuit of the Holy Grail.
1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg, 1984)
Steven Spielberg set a trend with Raiders of the Lost Ark. With Romancing The Stone rushed out to cash-in on the craze and a slew of other treasure hunts in the 1980s, Indiana Jones was not only a character people wanted to go adventuring with but he was the central part of a high concept movie craze that had cinema audiences purring in admiration. In the original, and best, Spielberg has his intrepid archaeologist trekking across the world in order to find the Ark of the Covenant (which holds, supposedly, the tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed). He is pursued on his journey by a vicious Nazi taskforce, determined to find the ark on Hitler’s orders under the impression it will make the army invincible.