NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS
When a missing page from the diary of 19th century Presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth (Christian Camargo) surfaces in the hands of opportunistic Jeb Wilkinson (Ed Harris), Ben Gates' (Nicolas Cage) great-great grandfather is suddenly implicated as a key conspirator in Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Determined to prove his ancestor's innocence, Ben - with reluctant help from his father Patrick (Jon Voight), Patrick's estranged academic wife Emily (Helen Mirren) and Ben's separated partner Abigail (Diane Kruger) - follows a chain of clues to Paris and from Paris to London and ultimately back to America. This journey leads Ben and his crew not only to surprising revelations about American history - but to the trail of one of the world's most treasured secrets.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
I like National Treasure of 2004 for its sense of fun in tandem with adventure and a story that, while slightly elevated, is still within the realms of cinematic possibility. This sequel crashes through the credibility barrier with several elements that are fetched too far - including the how and why of the kidnapping of the US President, the reconciliation of irreconcilable ex-partners and the entire climax. Not to mention a chase scene in London that is absurd, considering the status of traffic in that city; that car chase, incidentally, involves a gun toting gang whose leader undergoes another unbelievable transformation.
The film gets by as an escapist frolic thanks to its thoroughly committed cast: Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage), his technically brilliant but insecure associate, Riley (Justin Bartha), National Archives conservator Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger), Patrick Gates (Jon Voight) and the wonderful Helen Mirren as Patrick's long divorced ex wife, who happens to be an expert on the rarest ancient languages which turn up in the treasure hunt. Never mind the lucky coincidence, but the brittle relationship is first overstated and later overturned.
Ed Harris is an edgy Jeb Wilkinson who forces his way into the treasure hunt and Harvey Keitel does good business as Sadusky of the FBI. But too much of the story is delivered as dialogue instead of action, and when the action kicks in, too much of it is shot in tight, hand held close ups so we have no idea what we are seeing in context. Big, loud and effervescent in a Jerry Bruckheimer kind of way, the film is for the undemanding looking for a bit of easy escapism.
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NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS (PG)
CAST: Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Ed Harris, Harvey Keitel, Christian Camargo, Alicia Coppola, Bruce Greenwood, Joel Gretsch, Michael Maize, Helen Mirren, Timothy V. Murphy, Jon Voight, Ty Burrel
PRODUCER: Jerry Bruckheimer, Jon Turteltaub
DIRECTOR: Jon Turteltaub
SCRIPT: Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Amir M. Mokri, John Schwartzman
EDITOR: William Goldenberg, David Rennie
MUSIC: Trevor Rabin
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dominic Watkins
RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Studios
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 20, 2007
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.