National Treasure: Book of Secrets

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Film review by: Witney Seibold

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            Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) is back in the most thrilling film since the original “National Treasure” (2004)! Director Jon Turteltaub (“National Treasure”), and screenwriters The Wibberleys (“National Treasure”), once again throw Gates (Nicolas Cage) into another worldwide scavenger hunt, this time to prove the innocence of his great-great grandfather in the assassination of none other than Abraham Lincoln! With his trusty sidekick Riley (Justin Bartha) at his side, making all manner of wacky quips and humorous throw-aways, and on the outs with his love interest Abigail (Diane Kruger) from “National Treasure” (2004), Benjamin (Nicolas Cage) treks to Paris, to London, to Mt. Rushmore, and to the Oval Office itself (wow!), where he must kidnap the president (Bruce Greenwood), and get information about a legendary Book of Secrets, written by presidents, and for the eyes of presidents only! And then if Benjamin (Nicolas Cage) weren’t under enough pressure, he must help reconcile his estranged parents (Jon Voight and Helen Mirren), and avoid the treachery of the villainous Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris)! Will Benjamin (Nicolas Cage) find the hidden treasure and prove his grandfather’s name? Will he escape the machinations of Wilkinson? Will he be able to successfully kidnap the president, just as easily as he stole the Declaration of Independence in “National Treasure” (2004)? And just what is written in The Book of Secrets?

 

            “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” is almost exactly the same as its predecessor: every bit as dumb and implausible as it sounds, and more fun than it has any right to be. Rife with Schoolyard patriotism, “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” never met a goofy “Raiders of the Lost Ark” ripoff it didn’t like. There are several implausible chases and set-pieces (one involving a giant, four-sided balancing act which would strain the credibility gland of a sharp 10-year-old), and the characters are bright-eyed, and quite possibly broadest possible characters that can be squeezed into a 130-minutes, PG-rated, Disney holiday adventure film. It’s easy to like a film like this just for its innocent childish audacity, and for its unabashed sense of Yay America. It’s also impossible to take a film like this the least bit seriously. Yes, heavy-hitters like Harris, Mirren, Voight, and Cage are all involved, and Kruger and Bartha do way more for their paper-thin roles than most actors would be capable of. But, well, it still is what it is.

 

            A few nice touches in the film: In the flashback to Abe’s assassination, the film actually bothered to get a lot of the details right, including the very line of “Our American Cousin” that was spoken when the trigger was pulled. Bruce Greenwood plays the unnamed president, and has now played a president or a high government official at least four times. Helen Mirren and Jon Voight play well together, even though Mirren couldn’t hold onto an American accent. Diane Kruger is even prettier in this film than she was in the original. Nicolas Cage has to affect a cockney dialect in one scene, and no scenery survives his teeth-gnashing. A fun drinking game to play with these films is to take a shot every time they say “treasure,” “declaration,” or the name of any president.

             Be sure to ask me sometime about my adventures with Disney’s promotional sweepstakes: The “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” Clue Hunt. Players were to go on their own scavenger hunt, for fun and prizes. I and a team of friends participated, and we won a trip to New York.

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Published in: on February 5, 2008 at 3:22 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Is it me, or does “The Wibberlys” sound like a pair of “Fraggle Rock” characters?


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