Review: National Treasure: Book of Secrets
PLOT: When world famous treasure hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates finds out an ugly possibly truth that his Great Grandfather Thomas Gates may have been involved in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, he makes it his mission to find the truth. And with the truth, he finds himself in search of a secret book that only the President of the United States has access to. It is an adventure that will take him all the way to Mount Rushmore. Will he find the truth? And will his family regain it’s good name? Seriously… what do you think?
Okay, I didn’t really see enough of the first NATIONAL TREASURE to make me care enough to watch the entire film. So I had no real expectations about NATIONAL TREASURE 2: BOOK OF SECRETS. I had seen the preview and felt it looked a little bland, but I was willing to see if it might be a fun movie that may entertain me for a couple of hours. You know, a good popcorn flick. But as it turns out, it is not a good popcorn flick. This is a dull and predictable action yarn that felt like a cheap imitation of better films, you know, like RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK… for that matter, TOMB RAIDER was more exciting than this.
It all starts when the obvious bad guy, played by Ed Harris, claims that he has proof that Ben Gates Great Grandpop was the ringleader in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He couldn’t have picked a better time than some ceremony claiming the man to be an American hero. But lucky for the audience, we are shown what really went down and why Tom Gates name was on a page in John Wilkes Booth diary. See, he was trying to burn a page not because he was trying to kill the president, but because the page offered up clues to a hidden treasure, one which the Confederates were searching for. Bored yet? I was.
So the rest of the film is Nicholas Cage as Ben Gates, and a few returning folk from the original film including his soon to be ex-wife (or ex, frankly, I don’t remember which) Abigail (Diane Kruger), his assistant Riley (Justin Bartha) and of course, dear old dad, Patrick (Jon Voight). For the most part, I did appreciate the cast. Justin Bartha had a few funny moments. Diane Kruger was pretty. Jon Voight is always good, and somebody used common sense to introduce Helen Mirren as his ex-wife Emily. Both of these two pros did pretty good work for such a dull script.
And what the hell is with these people. Nicholas Cage knows everything. When solving an ancient puzzle to find a hidden treasure, he seems to know exactly how to get there within seconds. I know they probably wanted to do without the how and why this geniouses figure this stuff out (aside from the fact, that it was already covered in the first installment), but still… come on. Nick seems really in tune with the role and made the know-it-all aspect as believable as possible, but I still didn’t buy into it. It is an overly convenient way to tell a story that has more flash than depth. The Wibberley’s script is full of boring characters, lame one liners that rarely offer up a chuckle, and a dull story that felt as safe as an action flick could possibly feel.
Director Jon Turtletaub really does an adequate job with a few of the action set pieces. But the camerawork felt inconsistent. In many of the non-action moments, the constant use of slowly moving the camera in on a character seemed to be false and unnecessary. It was almost as if Jon really wanted you to be sure that this was an important moment. In fact, so much of the story and the drama are clearly spelled out for you that it was about as edge of your seat as an episode of “Murder She Wrote”.
For an action film to work, you have to feel a sense of jeopardy for the poor slobs involved. Well, I didn’t feel any moment of danger, for anyone. When one character finally suffers a possible death (hmmm, sequel maybe?) I was too busy wondering which part of the sequence was what I had seen on a tour at Universal Studios. This is a decent cast that is involved in a harmless and predictable adventure that felt too long and too unbelievable. Yet it is better than Nick Cage in THE WICKER MAN remake… so if you liked that one, you’ll be sure to dig this. My rating 3/10 -- JimmyO
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