(2007) dir. Jon Turteltaub
Not exactly at the top of my list of films to see, I may have even made comment somewhere that I probably wouldn’t ever see these films even in my Nicolas Cage slumming that I like to do. But I think, influenced by some reviews stating that these movies were made to be like the Indiana Jones films but rated PG, I guess somewhere I opened myself up to this. So, on a cold and tired Sunday afternoon, I put the DVD box in front of Felix at the video store and he bit.
National Treasure: Book of Secrets is a sequel to National Treasue (2004), which is pretty much a watered down history-focused Indiana Jones filtered through The Da Vinci Code (2006) but with no blood, no serious scares, just a bit of relatively clean action and globe-trotting. And it’s all-American.
The films, as their titles suggest, focus on the secrets and Illuminati types that have populated American history, differing from The Da Vinci Code in that their not so focused on the Catholic church or out-and-out European history. It’s America, dammit! And the heroes, Nicolas Cage, his dad (played by Jon Voight), and his pal and his girlfriend are all proud Americans. Why, even the president is a history buff and a non-idiot (which goes to suggest this is not meant to represent the current administration, I guess). The motive of the story that gets the heroes involved with the ultimate adventure is triggered when they want to clear a great-grandfather of having played a role in the assassination of president Lincoln.
The funny thing is that my son couldn’t figure out why they should care if someone who was long-dead was worth clearing the name of. And though Cage is given a speech in which he means to clarify this important thing and what it means to being an American, I wasn’t going to try to argue the point. When you come down to it, the motivation for the villains is also very odd and dodgy. This guy wants to make an important archeological discovery in his own name, his family name again, but has to do it through dastardly schemes, blackmail, physical threats and intimidation and in the end…why? Just for his name? He could have collaborated on this whole thing on the up and up and probably have come out better.
The film is entertaining enough, though barely. The big set-piece action a la Indiana Jones doesn’t really show up until the last half hour. Felix liked the film well enough. He told me that he thought that the first one, National Treasure, would probably be better. I don’t know why he wanted to see the second one first. I didn’t protest.