NATIONAL TREASURE is pretty preposterous and a little too long but kind of fun.
A Jerry Bruckheimer production, it has all of his signature touches, including
lots of pyrotechnics and chases, and it evens features music by Trevor Rabin
that sounds exactly like the music from THE ROCK, one of Bruckheimer's many
The story involves a "treasure protector" named Benjamin Franklin Gates
(Nicolas Cage), who is the descendant of a family who has been denigrated for
generations as being conspiracy nuts, since they believe that a bunch of Masons
among the Founding Fathers hide a big treasure. When Ben finds out that the
map to the treasure is hidden on the back of the Declaration of Independence,
he vows to steal it before his evil friend Ian Howe (Sean Bean) steals it
Ben and Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), Ben's computer nerd companion, develop an
elaborate plan to steal the document, but their only training appears to have
come from watching a thousand other similar movies. Cat burglars around the
world would be in awe of Ben's instant and incredible skills in his first crime
ever. This is the first of many times in the movie in which suspending
disbelief proves especially difficult.
What makes the characters' unbelievable actions somehow acceptable is a funny
script by no less than nine credited writers, which must be close to some kind
of record. They can never get plausibility right, but they do come up with
enough laughs to amuse the audience.
Other members of the cast include Jon Voight as Patrick Henry Gates, Ben's
skeptical father. Pat thinks that every clue will just lead to an endless set
of other clues. Diane Kruger (the face that launched a thousand ships in TROY)
lends her strikingly good looks as the romantic lead opposite Cage. She plays
Dr. Abigail Chase, who works at the National Archives. Abby is a reluctant
member of Ben's team after he steals the Declaration of Independence. The
movie is structured as a long chase with Ian's team hot on the heels of Ben's
group, who in turn are busy following clue after clue. Ben has a near genius
knack for instantly decoding the most obscure riddles, which come about every
ten minutes in the movie.
For all of its faults, NATIONAL TREASURE has a plot that keeps you with it
every minute, so that a bathroom break is simply out of the question. Unless
you're fast, you'd miss at least one twist and probably two while you were
Will the endless sequence of clues ever end? And will Ian kill our heroes as
looks likely? For some younger members of the audience of this PG-rated
thriller, these questions could be in doubt. For adults, just go for the
laughs and the entertainment, and, whatever you do, try not to think too hard.
NATIONAL TREASURE runs 2:05. It is rated PG for "action violence and some
scary images" and would be acceptable for kids around 7 and up.
My son Jeffrey, age 15, gave the film *** 1/2, saying that it was predictable
but fun. He thought the story was fresh, and the film had good action. His
friend Dustin, age 15, gave it ****, saying that it was excellent. His friend
Kyle, gave it ****, calling it awesome.
Copyright © 2004 Steve Rhodes