National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Jon Turteltaub

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Jon Voight, Helen Mirren, Ed Harris, Harvey Keitel, Bruce Greenwood, Ty Burrell

Synopsis: After the events of the original film, the Gates family name is once again respected in the realm of historic academia.   All this is about to unravel though, with a document uncovered that seems to indicate that a Gates family ancestor was a part of the conspiracy that led to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.   This starts Benjamin Franklin Gates, his parents, and his cohort from the original film on an adventure that goes much deeper than first thought.

A review by Film Nerd.

Sequels can often be either a blessing or a curse.   Expectation is what can draw a crowd, but what can also lead to disappointment.   In a way, that makes National Treasure the perfect film to franchise.   The original film was fun, it drew an audience, but was not the type of release which would lead fans to be overly critical on the success of the follow-up.   And as a continuation of the Benjamin Franklin Gates story, it does what it needs to do.   It is not necessarily better than the original, but it is certainly no worse.

The elements that worked with the original are all on show.   Gates making almost intuitive leaps through each puzzle piece, confusing his colleague Riley (Bartha, who provides some of the best comic relief), and love interest duties once again claimed by Diane Kruger.   This however also leads to my one big beef with the film, and with action-adventure sequels in general.   It has become the cliché to have the lovebirds separated between the films, the idea to re-introduce romantic tension in the lead couple.   Really, it has been done too many times to make it worthwhile anymore.   Clearly, this is what National Treasure has done, whereas for once I would like to see the protagonists presented as a nice “lived-in” couple, seeing how the relationship has progressed.

Soapbox standing aside, the bit players are also fantastic here.   Keitel and Voight reprise their roles, the latter getting beefed up and in this case it works.   This is due to the nature of the quest being more personal to both Gates males.   This is what ratchets up the drama in this film, not the romantic squabbling.   To complete the family we have the ever fabulous Mirren, who despite her pedigree, has the versatility to play well in this type of film, and she develops a very convincing relationship with Voight within her character arc.   Sticking Ed Harris in villain duties was also good casting, but he does not have the same flair as Sean Bean.   I think this is more scripting than performance though.   Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell and Star Trek‘s Bruce Greenwood both have minor but brilliant roles, especially the latter as the President of the United States.   This is the second film I have seen Greenwood in, the first one being the aforementioned Star Trek, in which he played Kirk mentor Captain Christopher Pike.   On the evidence of that film in this, I want to see a lot more of his filmography.

The action quotient has also been increased this time, with a car chase, and a lot more tomb style booby traps.   Thankfully this was a case of bigger is better, even if some of the traps, and the methods of escaping them, did stretch plausibility just a little bit.   Good thing I did not go into this film looking for plausible!!

This is an entertaining stand alone film, but for full impact, and for investment in the characters, it helps to have seen the original first.   That said, if you did not enjoy the original, it is highly likely you will not enjoy this film.   Personally though, I give the thumbs up.

3.5 stars (out of a possible 5)

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets on IMDB

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=]

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