Image courtesy of impawards.com
Nicolas Cage……….Ben Gates
Justin Bartha……….Riley Poole
Diane Kruger……….Abigail Chase
Jon Voight……….Patrick Gates
Helen Mirren……….Emily Appleton
Ed Harris……….Mitch Wilkinson
Bruce Greenwood……….The President
Timothy V. Murphy……….Seth
Alicia Coppola……….FBI Agent Spellman
Albert Hall……….Dr. Nichols
Joel Gretsch……….Thomas Gates
Christian Camargo……….John Wilkes Booth
Brent Briscoe……….Michael O’Laughlen
Billy Unger……….Charles Gates
As far as guilty pleasures go, National Treasure: Book of Secrets is the sort of furtive delight Mom or Dad might find hidden under the mattress. They always suspected that certain people take pleasure in Nicolas Cage, but they had no idea it was happening under their roof. While this globetrotting sequel to 2004’s surprise hit may feel naughty, it’s hard to quit watching something that makes one feel so good. Still, viewers will be glad the theater is dark so they may hide their shame in deriving such satisfaction from this anachronistic, absurd adventure.
For his latest journey around the world Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) is on a quest to restore his family’s good name. It seems that the Family Gates may have been involved in the plot to assassinate President Lincoln, or so says Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris), a descendent of John Wilkes Booth. If only there were a way to prove Thomas Gates’ innocence, perhaps a puzzle or code that could easily be cracked and subsequently lead Ben Gates and his cronies on a wild treasure hunt.
Fortunately, it does not take long to find out that there is indeed such a code and it is cracked almost instantaneously because Ben Gates is the greatest puzzle solver since Adam West. Before the viewer even understands the feelings bubbling up inside him, his instincts take control and he is caught up in the pursuit of that instant gratification that such movies have made him so familiar with. Sure, his friends might make fun of him when talking about Gates’ search for the lost City of Gold later, but rest assured those same friends felt that same feeling when the final credits rolled.
It was those same friends who giggled quietly to themselves when Gates fakes a drunken argument with his ex-girlfriend Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) in order to sneak into the private quarters of Buckingham Palace to retrieve a clue. It was those same friends that begrudgingly admitted to themselves that while computer whiz/all-purpose dork Riley Poole’s (Justin Bartha) “I never get to be the hero” shtick is taxing, it is also a pleasant addition to the whole affair. And those same friends undoubtedly caught themselves delighting in the banter between Academy Award winners, Jon Voight and Helen Mirren, as Gates’ long-separated parents. Why shouldn’t they? National Treasure: Book of Secrets never pretends to be anything more than a pleasurable diversion from typical self-serious action/adventure fare. It isn’t Disney’s fault if viewers feel bad about something that makes them feel so good.
It is important to remember that what you are feeling is a natural part of growing up and it is nothing to be embarrassed about. Yet, though many people may enjoy National Treasure: Book of Secrets, it is probably best not to go around talking about it lest you give someone the wrong impression. It is okay to get pleasure from a film such as this one, but as self-respecting adults we wouldn’t want people to think we are doing it too often.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):