Directed by: Jon Turteltaub
Premise: A sequel to the 2004 film. Treasure hunter Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) searches for another treasure tied to American history, this time in an effort to clear the name of his family when it is revealed that his great-grandfather may have planned the assassination of President Lincoln.
What Works: National Treasure: Book of Secrets is a solid family-friendly adventure film. Like its predecessor, the film plays fast and loose with history, bending it to fit the story but rather than be annoying it’s actually rather fun. Book of Secrets has the requisite action scenes mixed with humor that were successful in the first film. The real joy of this film is in watching Jon Voight and Helen Mirren together as Ben Gates’ divorced parents. Their scenes together are very funny and they bring a human dimension to the film that helps it tremendously. The screenplay is able to get some extra mileage out of their relationship, allowing it to parallel Ben’s own troubled relationship with his girlfriend (Diane Kruger).
What Doesn’t: Those who found the original National Treasure too stupid may find similar flaws in this film, although an intense suspension of disbelief is necessary to watch this kind of film, just as it is necessary to enjoy Raiders of the Lost Ark, which clearly inspired the National Treasure films. Book of Secrets is a little lighter on the action than the original film and the ending is confusing, as it is unclear how the discovery of the treasure vindicates the Gates family name.
Bottom Line: National Treasure: Book of Secrets is a good sequel. It raises the stakes and improves upon the concept while still remaining true to what worked in the original film. It’s not brilliant filmmaking by any means but it is good popcorn fun.
Episode: #172 (December 30, 2007)