By Fred Topel | Image property of Walt Disney Pictures.
Naitonal Treasure: Book of Secrets
National Treasure: Book of Secrets is more fun than the first Treasure. I wasn't into the first one. I get why it's popular. People like to feel like magic and fantasy comes from reality. Or maybe they like to feel like they're learning something when they're really not. Anyway, they must have figured out the formula because this one really moves.
Review: National Treasure: Book of Secrets
The clues seem sharper this time around. Maybe they had more time to perfect the script or maybe I just got smarter in the last few years. The code breaking makes sense and they have clever tricks to transmit information in precarious situations.
There are only a few standard action/chase sequences. Most of the caper this time is nuanced scheming to break into places. Those are cool, even cooler than the Declaration of Independence. They're all even more outrageous too which is brilliant. Yeah, just do crazy sh*t.
When a chase does break out, it's standard Bruckheimer with things falling off trucks and breaking the scenery. That's always fun. The climactic set piece is real Indiana Jones stuff. Besides the elaborate set they must have built, it's all like ancient traps and puzzles. It's way more intense action.
Even though they hit reset at the beginning, it works. Benjamin Gates and Abigail Chase have broken up so they can court again, and Riley Poole has tax problems so he still needs the hunt for money. But they play the relationship so well the whole way through, using it as both a device for schemes and an exploration of real communication problems, it's fine. At least the father/son relationship is still intact and that's warm and close. With all those character details, National Treasure tells a better tale than The Da Vinci Code.
Look, there are still missed opportunities. Like, isn't Benjamin Gates famous now? Don't they know he find clues by breaking into places? And can't there be a bad guy who's actually a better treasure hunter, instead of just evil dudes who wait for him to do all the work? Well, I guess Belloq always waited too.
This one has cool new gadgets and more Nicolas Cage frantic freak out scenes, which were sorely missed the first time around. What's a Nicolas Cage movie without a frantic freak out? He seems way more playful in this one. Even the Disneyfied version of Lincoln's assassination is classy. This is actually the best sequel Jerry Bruckheimer has ever produced.