Sunday, December 23, 2007

National Treasure: Book of Secrets Review

What can really be said about National Treasure: Book of Secrets other than it's a standard by-the-numbers Jerry Bruckheimer movie. The plot is fairly simple, the acting sufficient, and the overall tone of the movie is just one of general accessibility. Yet, putting all that aside and taking it in for what it is results in an entertaining event that could have been much worse than it ended up being.

Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage, in his first ever sequel) has recently been thrown out of his girlfriend Abigail's (Diane Kruger) house because of communication issues. He's also currently on tour discussing some Civil War findings. Of course, completely out of no where, Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) reveals a page of John Wilkes Booth's missing diary, which purportedly connects Gates' great-great-grandfather to the assassination of President Lincoln. The audience is already aware of the ancestral Gates' innocence, as the first scene of the movie shows what really went down regarding that page, and, surprise, surprise, the real conspirators were using Gates to decipher the lost City of Gold.

So, in order to clear his family's name, Gates must now prove that his great-great-grandfather was in fact on the trail of the City of Gold. Somehow, by finding this City, it will prove that he was innocent. Because apparently the former Gates couldn't have simultaneously plotted an assassination AND searched for a lost city.

What follows is a series of nonsensical clues that Gates must follow while staying one step ahead of Wilkinson in a manner that could be likened to Indiana Jones meets James Bond. Unfortunately, Gates is lacking the ultimate charm of either of those two legendary heroes and does not quite command the same excitement.

What National Treasure DOES do is present even the most implausible situations in an entertaining and relatively exciting way so that boredom never really has an opportunity to present itself. The entire cast of characters is likable and charismatic enough that while you are never really concerned with the ultimate outcome of their arcs, you are curious enough to let it play out as it is. Some of the situations are just so ridiculous that its tough to swallow. The clues are put in such insanely difficult places to get to, but not only do the characters retrieve those clues, they do so with such ease that it amazes me that security for any elected official is continued to be employed. Then this is followed up with little to no retribution, adding a layer of insanity that would not quite be there otherwise.

But, like was stated before, this is a standard Jerry Bruckheimer movie, so to expect anything else would kind of be pushing it. Obviously people are not going to see this for intense plotting and intricate characters. No, people are going to go see it to spend an enjoyable evening out, and in that regard, the movie does deliver. People who did not like the first one are obviously going to hate this one as well. And it's certainly not going to change anyone's mind who already hates Bruckheimer's mindless movies in general. Yet, if you just want to see some crazy people getting into some crazy situations that span the globe, then National Treasure: Book of Secrets is worth checking out.


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