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"National Treasure" Movie Review

While Not Exactly a Treasure, It Does Have a Goofy Sort of Appeal


Diane Kruger and Nicolas Cage star in National Treasure

Nicolas Cage and Diane Kruger in "National Treasure"

© Touchstone Pictures
“National Treasure” is a summer movie released a few months too late. It’s one of those big action/goofball plot/popcorn movies that does well during the long, hot days of summer. Why it’s hitting theaters smack dab in the middle of what’s unofficially referred to as the Oscar-hopeful season is a bit of mystery. Not quite as big of a mystery as what made the filmmakers cast Diane Kruger as Nicolas Cage’s love interest (I like her but she’s way out of her league in this film), but a head-scratcher nonetheless.

Have you read “The Da Vinci Code?” If so, then take that plot, spin it around until the whirling feeling leaves you woozy, and then transplant the story to America. Remove the logical progression of events from “The Da Vinci Code” and you’ve got “National Treasure.”

Nicolas Cage stars as Benjamin Franklin Gates, the latest offspring of a long line of wacko Gates men who believe the Freemasons and America’s founding fathers conspired to carry on a 1,000+ year old plan to conceal the world’s greatest collection of treasures. Believing no government should control the unimaginable wealth, the treasure’s whereabouts are so secret that only a couple of people on earth believe the thing even exists.

Among the few who believe in the treasure are Gates and his trusted sidekick/comic relief buddy, Riley (Justin Bartha), who join up with another firm believer, Ian Howe (Sean Bean). Howe’s a wealthy businessman who you just know is going to betray them the first chance he gets. That first chance comes early on in the movie when Howe and his minions leave Gates and his little buddy for dead. Now two separate groups with one common goal, the opposing forces figure out the next clue involves the original Declaration of Independence, and the race is on to see who can get their hands on the heavily-guarded document first.

The hunt for the treasure continues for two hours (in movie time), with Gates meeting and falling for Abigail Chase (Kruger), dodging bullets, keeping one step ahead of the FBI, and dragging his poor old dad (Jon Voight) into the mess.

Even though the plot is ludicrous, Nicolas Cage, Justin Bartha and Sean Bean manage to make “National Treasure” into a fairly amusing, leave-your-brain-at-the-door, outing. It may sound like I didn’t enjoy the movie from my description of the film, but I really did have a good time watching Cage and his cohorts race around chasing clues.

Cage is engaging and pulls off the mix of action star and intellectual thinker, which leads me to believe he might be right for “The Da Vinci Code” if Tom Hanks falls out of the picture. It seems like “National Treasure” is almost a 2-hour long audition tape for the much-anticipated film adaptation of Dan Brown’s bestseller. We don’t see enough of Sean Bean in “National Treasure” but, as usual, he’s good at playing the bad guy. Bartha’s a pleasant surprise. Last seen with Ben Affleck and J-Lo in the really bad “Gigli,” Bartha shows he can actually act when given even decent material. The only disappointment as far as casting goes is Diane Kruger. The model-turned-actress is pleasing to look at but is horribly out of place playing one of the top bosses at the National Archives.

“National Treasure’s” one of those movies you have to be in the right mood to see. If you can get past Diane Kruger’s ever-changing accent, the twisted plot, and an intrusive musical score, then “National Treasure’s” a decent escapist sort of film. Just don’t go in expecting to be wowed.


"National Treasure" is directed by Jon Turteltaub and is rated PG for action violence and some scary images.

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