Factual error: As Ben is clinging to the staircase while it is falling apart, there is a close-up of a nail being pulled out of the wood. This nail is round-headed, rather than square as it would have been over 200 years ago. It's also shiny instead of rusty, which indicates that it's galvanized. Galvanization as an industrial, metal-preservation process was not patented until 1837, and was not used in building materials until well into the late-1800s. Since the film states the staircase was made by "the Founding Fathers, " and there was no galvanization of iron nails in any industrialized nation in 1780s-1830's, this is a huge anachronism.
Factual error: The sun's location horizontally changes throughout the year. Because of this, Ben, Abigail, and Riley shouldn't know where the shadow is falling, horizontally.
Factual error: When Ben finds Charlotte buried in the ice, he would have encountered solid, thick ice. The small pick-ax he uses seems to easily break through the ice. Also, he seems to be digging through packed snow, rather than thick ice, which is indicative to the Arctic ice shelves.
Continuity mistake: When Ben is first confronted at his father's car by the FBI, you can see Chase and Riley in the background standing there and then turning around and leaving. Then as they arrest Ben against the car, you can see Chase and Riley just turning the corner, noticing Ben being arrested, and leaving.
Factual error: When Dr. Chase receives the Washington campaign button from Ben Gates, she immediately picks it up with her bare fingers and rubs it with her thumb. An expert collector would *never* handle metal objects with their bare hands like this, as the acid on the fingers will corrode the metal. Cleaning the coin afterwards is also not an option, as this presents an even higher damage risk. See http://www.stujoe.com/content/view/30/34/ for more details.
Factual error: In the scene under the Trinity Church in New York, on the wall are two metal support beams in the shape of an X. There are bolts and washers securing the beams. Judging by the elevators that are operated by pulleys, there should be wood with square nails in the time period which the underground passage was built. Seeing the total state of disrepair in the underground elevator shaft, it is extremely unlikely that any updates/repairs were made significantly later than the time it was originally built.
Factual error: During the heist preparation scene, Riley enters the National Archives Metro station to record surveillance camera footage. Surveillance camera feeds for the National Archives would never be accessible within a Metro station due to both security concerns and the fact that the feeds are not needed outside of the National Archives building.
Factual error: Ben, Riley, and Abigail are driving into Philadelphia at sunrise to go to the Franklin Institute. They are shown driving west on the Ben Franklin Bridge. The sun is actually setting in the west behind Philadelphia, not rising.
Factual error: When Ben, Abigail, and Riley are discussing the correct time to be at Independence Hall, they would need to know the exact date, not only the time, of the painting to be sure to see the correct shadow.
Factual error: When Ben and the rest of the group start to climb under the church, Ben moves some spider webs out of the way with his torch. The dust on the spider webs would have burst into flames when he did this, but instead they just fall to the side.
Continuity mistake: When Ben puts his tool belt on the conveyor belt to go through the X-ray machine, we see the gloves are on the left and pointed down while the red, rubber encased plyer handles are approx. in middle leaning slightly to the right and no space between the plyer handles. As we watch the tool belt go through the X-ray machine, the gloves are on the right side with the plyer handles almost directly above the gloves, both handles visible and the rest of the belt all to the left.
Continuity mistake: When Ben ducks into the Gift Store, there is a blonde lady in a black dress standing at the counter between Ben and the door. She steps forward out of the picture as Abigail goes by. Then as Ben starts to turn to leave the store you see her arm come back into the picture. But as Ben walks by that part of the store and the clerk says to Ben, "Are you trying to steal that?" the lady has disappeared.
Continuity mistake: This has to do with Ben getting Abigail's fingerprints off the champagne glass. When he hands her the champagne glass, her fingers are positioned on the lower half of the glass. Later, when Ben "takes" her thumbprint off the glass, he takes it from a much higher part of the glass.
Character mistake: Once the characters are in NYC, Nick states that Wall Street was originally a wall (correct) built to defend against the British (incorrect.) The original wall was a wooden palisade built in the 16th Century to defend the colonists against invading natives and to prevent livestock from wandering uptown.
Continuity mistake: After Ben And Riley climb down into the smuggler's hole and are scrambling to get away, Ben grabs Riley and throws him through a hatchway. Riley lands in the snow with a wall next to him, on the screen's left side. Right before the blast, Ben dives (is thrown) facedown in the snow next to Riley but the screen is a mirror image of the previous one because the wall is now on the right of the screen and so is Riley.
Factual error: In the scene in the Charlotte, the black powder would not burn without creating enormous amounts of thick grey smoke. And the barrels would never have exploded like that. Maybe one or two but never to that degree. More like a succession of explosions.
Factual error: When Ben, Riley, and Abigail are in Independence Hall in Philadelphia and roll out the Declaration of Independence to inspect with Ben Franklin's special "ocular device" that Ben had just found, Ben pauses to take in the moment. When asked what was the matter, Ben says "It's just that...the last time this was here (in Independence Hall)...It was being signed." However, according to archives.gov, "In 1876 the Declaration traveled to Philadelphia, where it was on exhibit for the Centennial National Exposition from May to October. Philadelphia's Mayor William S. Stokley was entrusted by President Ulysses S. Grant with temporary custody of the Declaration. The Public Ledger for May 8, 1876, noted that it was in Independence Hall "framed and glazed for protection, and... Deposited in a fireproof safe especially designed for both preservation and convenient display." Sorry Ben.
Revealing mistake: When the stairs built on the walls of the dumbwaiter shaft start to collapse, Riley makes a jump onto a stable one. In the first shot of him jumping you can see a thick stunt wire attached to the back of his shirt.
Character mistake: At the gala, Ben describes to Abigail how the Founding Fathers would have been hanged, beheaded, drawn and quartered, and had their entrails burned had they lost the war. However, only hanging and beheading were acceptable practices in Britain at the time; Ben's information is off by several decades.
Continuity mistake: In the catacombs under Trinity Church, the lift Ben and Abigail are standing on falls. When it jerks to a stop, Abigail falls and Ben catches her. The lift is stationary at an angle. However, in the next shot, the lift is swinging forwards, allowing Ben to throw Abigail to safety.
Continuity mistake: When Riley and Abigail are running through the tunnel, trying to get away from Shaw and Viktor, we see Riley running into people and getting knocked around and held up. We see a lady in a red suit go by and then there are two men in suits, the one closest to the camera has a medium brown suit on, over the collar salt and pepper hair and glasses whilst the man farthest from the camera has a medium gray/blue suit on and very short brown hair. The next shot shows Riley trying to go between these two men only now, the one nearest the camera has a very dark charcoal suit on, short white hair and no glasses whilst the other man is wearing a black suit, has greyish brown hair and is much older than before.
Continuity mistake: When we see Ian's men pull up over the grate that they are going to go down through to get to the National Archive, we see the street wet so it had to have rained, been hosed down, etc. But when one of Ian's men drops a large bag down, it whirls up a huge cloud of dust when it lands. This shouldn't have happened because there was nothing over the tunnel but a grate and some water would have gone down the tunnel, wetting the dust.
Continuity mistake: When Abigail runs down the aisle trying to find a hiding place from Shaw and Viktor, she jumps over a small space between some meat display coolers. In that shot the "butcher lady" can be seen behind a large roll of brown paper to the right of the scene. To the left of the space, behind a roll of white paper, is a second butcher. This second butcher is right next to where Abigail lands and is sitting when the first butcher lady says: "If you're not a steak, you don't belong here." But there is no one near Abigail when the camera show her sitting there, talking to the butcher lady.
Continuity mistake: When Ben walks in to the bathroom to remove his overalls, he slams the tool belt up in the corner of the counter next to side panel wall and tile wall. When Ben unzips the overalls, the tool belt is now behind the last sink's faucet with part of the belt and fastener in the middle sink. None of the tool belt is next to the side panel wall. We next see a shot where the tool belt is almost entirely in the last sink, then back to being behind the faucet.