December 26, 2007 > Movie Review
National Treasure 2: The Book of Secrets
National Treasure is an entertaining movie that weaves another historical treasure hunt involving the same cast of characters as the first National Treasure film, chasing a whole new set of clues. It continues its tradition of having a lot of fun with American history though, at times, this movie seems a bit rushed and disjointed.
The film begins with a re-creation of the assassination of President Lincoln. Booth and his cohorts are also in pursuit of a lost treasure that will enable them, with additional funds, to restart the Civil War. Toward that end, Booth is also trying to gain the help of Thomas Gates, the great, great grandfather of our hero, Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage), who has the family genetic obsession with solving puzzles. Due to this connection, however, his name is mysteriously tied to the assassins. Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) the great, great grandson of Booth's partner from the past accuses Ben and Patrick's ancestor as being one of the co-conspirators in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. His proof is a partially burnt page from the Booth diary, which happens to have the name "Thomas Gates" written on it (along with other names of known conspirators).
Benjamin and Patrick Gates (Jon Voight), with the help of Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), set out to prove Mitch Wilkinson wrong by pursuing clues that can clear their family name and, at the same time, discover another treasure. They are later joined by Ben's girlfriend from the first National Treasure film, Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger). This time, we are introduced to a new family member - Ben's mother, Emily (Helen Mirren) - a college professor of historical artifacts and symbols, whose skills are very much needed to decipher the clues.
This new treasure hunt sends the group to different locations around the globe including Paris, London, Washington D.C., Mount Vernon, and The Black Hills of South Dakota. We even find out that there is a secret book containing information that the government doesn't want us to know. Director Jon Turteltaub does a great job guiding the movie on a rapid cadence of individual plots while keeping us plugged in to the larger story.
One drawback of this film is that it assumes that you have watched the earlier movie; it starts the new story from the first scene without reintroducing you to the main characters. Missing parts of their lives appear tangentially throughout the movie and there aren't as many clues and puzzles that made the first National Treasure film so entertaining. The clues are neat but go by too quickly and the puzzles are obvious at times. There is an air of superficiality that hangs above the storyline as we are rushed through the movie that lasts for a little more than 1.5 hours. However, even with these flaws, the movie excels with really neat action sequences and suspenseful missions.
Overall, this is an enjoyable move. Though some aspects are a bit weak, it has the humor, action, and excitement - all the traits that made the first National Treasure film so entertaining.
Runtime: 101 minutes.