a critiQal film review National Treasure: Book Of Secrets (2007)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: When his great-great-grandfather is accused of being a co-conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, famed treasure hunter Benjamin Gates (Cage) must uncover the fabled City of Gold in order to clear his family's name.

593 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 57s)

Back in 2004, hit theaters and became an instant success. Thanks to actors like Nicolas Cage and Jon Voight leading the way, and a mix of intrigue, suspense and puzzle-solving, this action adventure was a hit.

So it’s only natural that there is now a sequel, titled National Treasure: Book of Secrets. But, is this just Hollywood’s way of cashing in on the success of the first film, or would this sequel be worth watching? We wanted to find out when it hit theaters last December, but alas, never got around to it. Now that it is on DVD, however, well, we couldn’t wait to find out for ourselves if this 2nd Treasure would be as fun as the first.

Nicolas Cage leads the returning cast members, returning as Benjamin Gates to lead audiences on another treasure hunt in Book of Secrets, and audiences will be glad to have him back. While he doesn’t get excited as easily as he did in the first film, Cage still brings a certain flair to his performances, and Book of Secrets is no exception.

Jon Voight also returns for the sequel, portraying Nic’s dad. This time around, he plays more of an active role in the proceedings however, and his interactions with his estranged wife (played by Helen Mirren) are some of the many highlights of the film.

Also returning are Diane Kruger as Abigail, now Benjamin’s ex-girlfriend, and Justin Bartha, the hilarious sidekick from the first film. While Abigail’s interactions with Benjamin are the high points of her performance, Justin’s Riley has gotten even funnier. From the very first scene he’s in, he’ll have audiences smiling – and his quips (“here come my tax dollars to arrest me”) are sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.

The biggest disappointment in this second film lies with Ed Harris’ character, Mitch Wilkinson. Supposed to be the bad guy of the picture, he does a good job of acting the part, but the script doesn’t seem to quite know what to do with him. While Sean Bean seemed both menacing and intelligent, Ed Harris’ Mitch seems dumb as a post at times. He’s around, it seems, just to give Nic and pals something to run from – but he’s really not that bad of a guy.

While the bad guy isn’t worth watching, National Treasure: Book of Secrets gets the plot right once again. Since the biggest attraction from the first film was discovering the clues along with the characters, the filmmakers stuck with what they know.

Finding the clues to the puzzle this time around requires the characters to take much bigger risks than in the first film. While the characters only had to access one restricted area in the original film (to steal the Declaration of Independence), this time most of the clues are hidden in restricted access areas like the Oval Office and Buckingham Palace. This leads the characters to go to greater extremes to obtain the clues, including kidnapping the President of the United States (Bruce Greenwood, in a standout performance).

With the whole cast of major characters returning from the first film, and another fun search for clues that will hook the audience right from the get-go, National Treasure: Book of Secrets is a great follow-up to the first film. It’s only drawback is the way it wastes Ed Harris’ bad guy performance.

Still, it’s definitely one to check out on DVD. And, if you own the original film, chances are you’re going to want to pick up a copy of National Treasure: Book of Secrets as well.

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