What do you get when you combine Indiana Jones, "The Da Vinci Code" and Walt Disney Pictures? A lackluster adventure film that shows sparks of life at times but ultimately flatlines. National Treasure is a decent family adventure film, but for any serious moviegoer, it is a disappointing miss.
Nicolas Cage stars as Benjamin Franklin Gates, the latest in a line of "treasure protectors" (though he's really a treasure hunter) who, after years of searching, has finally stumbled across a clue that could reveal everything. Unfortunately, the next clue is on the back of the Declaration of Independence and his prior partner (Sean Bean) has turned on him and left him for dead. Against all odds, this treasure hunter somehow figures out how to steal the Declaration of Independence and the audience is taken on a ride through the monuments of the United States in search of the greatest treasure ever known. Add in a beautiful woman played by Helen of Troy herself, Diane Kruger, and a funny, sarcastic sidekick, Justin Bartha, and you've got yourself a movie.
Why Cage continues to do projects like this is beyond me (aside from money, which he should have plenty of). He's so good in films like Adaptation and Matchstick Men, but then high and mighty Jerry Bruckheimer lures him into yet another cheesy action film. Why?
National Treasure is not meant to be taken completely seriously, but this movie asks for way too many grains of salt. The plot races along at breakneck speed and doesn't take time to fill in the gaps, of which there are many; the dialogue doesn't help matters. To fill in the slow parts, some very mundane dialogue has been inserted to pass time, but boy is it bad. There are a few very funny moments, but there are plenty of scenes that just seem to drag on and on without coherence. Did anyone read the screenplay before signing on?
More than anything else, the film is just dull. Obviously inspired by the European adventures in "The Da Vinci Code" (Which is being made into a movie), the clues are pulled from such ridiculous places it is hard to become engulfed in the story. Kids may enjoy it, but adults will have trouble swallowing everything. On top of that, there are elements of Indiana Jones, especially near the end, but National Treasure never even comes close to attaining that level of suspense or humor or plot or charisma.
A few of the action sequences are entertaining, but the first act especially is amazingly boring. The ending is also a tad disappointing as I was expecting a little more adventure and a more climactic showdown with the bad guys.
National Treasure is mindless and does have its fun parts, but lacks the goods to capitalize on its strengths. In the end, it fizzles and I see no sequels in its future.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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