First and foremost, it has to be stated that I am a Disney lover through and through and I have a lot of faith in the genius of Jerry Bruckheimer. Knowing this, you might be surprised to find that I almost had to be forced to watch the first National Treasure. There is a very good reason for this.
I cannot stand Nicolas Cage. Not really too sure of the why, but my god the man drives me insane.
That being said, I did eventually watch the first National Treasure and actually loved it. It was the perfect mix of Da Vinci Code level intelligence and action that would make Indiana Jones proud. Riley (Justin Bartha) was what made it for me; he played the perfect sidekick and kept me in stitches almost the entire time.
After admitting that I was wrong to almost miss out on a great movie because of my unfounded loathing of one actor, I happily went to see the sequel. Two hours later, I left the theatre with nothing more to say then “Eh”.
This movie suffered from “sequel syndrome”; the witty banter, the clever commentary, the surprising storyline all were a little watered down in the second installment. The action was exactly what you would expect from a Bruckheimer production; intense, audience pleasing, and lasting just a tad too long.
The film had a strong start, providing a historical background that put the reader in a better position to understand the plot (something that I personally was very grateful for, as a history buff I am not.) We learn that the great grandfather of Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) has come under scrutiny; it seems that he may have contributed in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Ben has recently been unceremoniously kicked out of his palatial mansion by his lady love Abigail (Diane Kruger), so this news is just the cherry on top of a bad luck streak. Ben’s father Patrick (Jon Voight) is devastated by the possibility of the Gates family being remembered as traitors, and Ben sets off to find the truth. Assisted by his sarcastic and slightly bitter associate Riley Poole a reluctant Abigail and even his disgruntled mother (brilliantly portrayed by the incomparable Helen Mirren) Ben follows clues from Paris to London and back to Washington DC, where it is determined that he has to kidnap the President of the United States. Simple, right? After stealing the Declaration of Independence, kidnapping the leader of the free world just seems to be the next logical step.
Once again, the unsung hero of this movie is undoubtedly Riley whose quick remarks and hilarious observations are the most memorable aspect of the movie. Can someone please explain to me why this guy is not a star? His brilliant lines are delivered perfectly and he never breaks that blank stare of his unless it’s to smirk when something goes his way or scream in terror if something goes horribly wrong. Obviously the scream is seen much more often then the smirk.
Helen Mirren was a great addition to the team, playing Emily Appleton, Ben’s mother and Patrick’s ex-wife. The tension between Patrick and Emily is believable enough, and you get the feeling that what ended their relationship is quite possibly what is causing problems with Ben and Abigail (although you never really get an insight into why the two are separated).
Bottom line, this movie is good enough as an entertaining watch and is a decent enough follow up as far as sequels are concerned. A guaranteed classic, no. However, I did leave the theatre wishing I had paid more attention in history class, so perhaps that was one objective achieved.