National Treasure: Book of Secrets Review

by Ed Lau on December 28, 2007

National Treasure Book of Secrets, Nicolas Cage

I’m not sure how many of you have seen the first National Treasure movie but it wasn’t terrible. It was rather entertaining, in fact, like some kind of hybrid of Indiana Jones and Mission: Impossible but as with most movies like this, it’s best not to think about it too much. The first film had Nicolas Cage and Justin Bartha running around the United States in search of the Templar treasure, something that has made them quite rich and famous by the time the events of the second movie took place.

This time, Benjamin Gates (Cage) and company (including Diane Kruger, John Voight and Helen Mirren) are in search of the rumored City of Gold. No, seriously…an entire city made of gold. It starts with Ed Harris bringing forth a lost page in the diary of John Wilkes Booth, (assassin and card-carrying male model) which implicates one of Gates’ ancestors as a conspirator in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Of course, the page is also a clue which leads everyone on another treasure hunt which will clear Gates’ name…for some reason.

National Treasure Book of Secrets, Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Helen Mirren

“For some reason” is a good way to think about the entire movie, really as many of the events will make you scratch your head. For example, they have to break into Buckingham Palace to see the Queen’s desk. Rather than doing what most people who do and asking the Queen if you can see her desk (or something along those lines), instead Gates and his sidekicks decide to stage an elaborate scheme which involves supercomputers that can be stored in a simple shoulderbag and set up in a bathroom stall. I’m sure it’s from the same store that the labs from CSI get theirs which can clear up pixelated images and has a database of all the semen and fingerprints in history.

Sure, normal people probably couldn’t get a phone call with the Queen but Gates found the freakin’ treasure in the first movie…I’m sure he has some kind of clout, not to mention everyone around him seems to be connected to the government or a respected college professor. This isn’t to say that this is a bad movie. It’s quite fun but you’ll find yourself asking “Wouldn’t this have been easier if they did this?” Lots of events seem to occur out of sheer coincidence. Oh, I need to use a secret tunnel under Mount Vernon. How do I know about the tunnel? I just happen to have George Washington’s original blueprints…which are remarkably preserved despite being hundreds of years old and not protected by anything at all. Isn’t that convenient?

National Treasure Book of Secrets, Nicolas Cage

…and that’s not even the most preposterous thing in the movie. Let’s all try to cover a mountain with water using nothing but these six water bottles. Let’s have Jesus turn them into wine, while we’re at it.

Special effects look fantastic and there is a decent car chase through the streets of London.

National Treasure Book of Secrets, Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Helen Mirren, Jon Voight

I heard that they were going to try and turn National Treasure into a franchise along the lines of Indiana Jones and while that’s not a bad idea, it has a long way to go before it reaches the iconic status of the latter. While Nicholas Cage is no Harrison Ford, he is more in his element here than as any kind of action hero (like in the awful Ghost Rider. As long as his character leaves the whip and gun at home and sticks to his brain, then this might be a good series of films but the second Cage starts to throw haymakers, it’s going to fail. I’d sooner believe that you can make a whole city with gold than Nicolas Cage being able to kick anyone’s ass.

Verdict: 6.0 out of 10

in Entertainment

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lee December 30, 2007 at 4:11 pm

I like your point about the character not becoming an action/punch them up type of character in order to maintain some integrity for future films and I really do hope that they do continue it on.

I think I liked them in part because they don’t have the baggage that comes with the Indiana Jones series at this point, no expectations to disappoint etc

As a side point about the Queen’s desk – it would take weeks if not months to get something like that approved if going through the correct channels and they also were trying to keep the clues to themselves (pretty poorly LOL).

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Mike Huang December 30, 2007 at 9:29 pm

I went to watch this movie last week and it is GREAT! I can’t wait until they come out with the 3rd one ;)

-Mike

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