When we last left off with treasure hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) he was on an action-packed quest around the globe to find treasure and save the world. Now he’s back with the sequel “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” to find treasure and save … his family name.
The whole gang is reunited (’cause it feels so good) with Ben being joined by his dad (Jon Voight), his amusing sidekick Riley (Justin Bartha), Harvey Keitel as the FBI guy and the heroine Abigail (Diane Kruger). But just like most sequels, you have to go bigger and badder, so they added Ed Harris and last year’s Oscar winner Helen Mirren as Ben’s mother.
The mystery begins within the missing pages of John Wilkes Booth’s diary. Didn’t know Abraham Lincoln’s assassin wrote down his private thoughts and national secrets? Well, it leads us from Paris to London and back to the United States in search of a mythical city of gold. But it’s not enough for Ben to go after the money — he’s out to clear his family name, since it’s now tied to Lincoln’s death.
There are many moments that go overboard, but none more insane than kidnapping the President to discover a secret book, except of course the fact that country artist Randy Travis performs two songs.
There is bad acting all around with Harris, Mirren and Cage constantly outdoing each other, but it’s not on purpose. Everyone plays it straight with no success, except for Bartha who has a one-liner for every occasion.
When the original film came out in 2004 it was right around the time “The Da Vinci Code” was on everyone’s must-read list. “Treasure” simply seemed like a knock-off arriving at the right time.
But after Ron Howard/Tom Hanks’ “Da Vinci” failed to excite audiences, it seemed “Treasure” got something right. They keep it fun, light and, if you don’t follow the mystery, there is still plenty of room to be entertained. That’s not the case with this sequel.
Cage had tapped into some Indiana Jones energy the first time around, but luckily Harrison Ford can steal back the torch in 2008.
“National Treasure: Book of Secrets” doesn’t realize what it should be: an adventure film that never slows down and never goes over the deep end. If you desperately need to escape the house this holiday season, avoid this treasure and see something else.
“National Treasure: Book of Secrets”
Final Score: 3 out of 10
Nicolas Cage as Benjamin Franklin Gates
Diane Kruger as Abigail Chase
Jon Voight as Patrick Gates
Ed Harris as Mitch Wilkinson
Helen Mirren as Emily Appleton
Screenplay by Cormac and Marianne Wibberley. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Jon Turteltaub. Directed by Jon Turteltaub. A Walt Disney Pictures release. Rated PG. Running time: 130 minutes.