Retro Review: National Treasure

Meglo-producer Jerry Bruckheimer has taken us onto a screaming asteroid, broken into Alcatraz and given us adrenaline rush after adrenaline rush.

One of Bruckheimer’s favorite leading men, Nicolas Cage takes another ride on the Bruckheimer popcorn express.

Cage first teamed with Bruckheimer on the action-thriller “The Rock” where Cage got his first taste of being a true action hero. He then returned as a “convict-with-a-heart-of-gold” in “Con-Air” and finally as a dashing car thief in “Gone in 60 Seconds”.

In Cage’s fourth collaboration with Bruckheimer we find him playing Benjamin Franklin Gates, a cursed treasure hunter who has watched generations of his family wither away as they seek out the ultimate prize. Through clues left by America’s founding fathers, the Gates legacy believed that some of America’s most prized artifacts would lead the legendary “Knight Templar’s Treasure”.

Teamed up with comic relief and techie Riley (Justin Bartha of “Gigli”) and National Archives conservator Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger of “Troy”), Gates must battle Ian Howe, a ruthless adversary (Sean Bean) and secure the key to the treasure, the American Declaration of Independence.

We all have yearned to be Indiana Jones and embark on one of his amazing adventures. With “National Treasure”, Bruckheimer and Cage try to embrace the thrills and treasure-seeking desires in their new hero, Ben Gates. The duo also connects their hero to symbols of American history as he embarks on his quest.

That was all fine until the quest becomes one that has drifted down through the ages and is now connected to the likes of the Egyptians and the Knight’s Templar. This leap is one I wasn’t about to take.

The underlying message presented in the film about American patriotism and that the world’s most capitalist state would be connected to the world’s largest treasure seems entirely goofy and almost egotistical.

Given the state of the American union currently and the re-election of George W Bush, I am not sure this film’s message is appropriate. Maybe if it was released in the mid-1980s it would have rang more true. The film itself is littered with oodles and oodles of clichés, bad dialogue and two-dimensional characters.

One perfect scene to help clarify this factor is the scene where Gates leads his crack team into the bowels of a frozen ship known as the Charlotte. Gates tips over barrels scattered about uncovering black powder. Then you have one guy say, “Gun powder”. Okay, first off we have a ship, there are cannons and the powder is black. What else could it be, coffee?

To top this all off, Gates finds the frozen dead captain of the ship holding a barrel to his chest. And Gates goes, “I wonder why the captain is holding this barrel so closely?” My quote isn’t perfect but it is just pure stupidity and blatantly obvious useless dialogue.

The film continues like this with Gates having these obvious and goofy revelations. Cage is good as Gates but his dialogue really distracted me from his performance. Kruger is once again another woman whose character loses her intelligence as soon as she is on the hunt. Why couldn’t she have been more like Rachel Weisz in the “Mummy” films?

There are some slight humorous moments and some of the heist sequences were entertaining but definitely not nail-biting. If in some magical way this film gets kids to study history great because maybe then they will look back and see just how corny this film actually is.

2 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer.

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