Monday, June 19, 2017

"NATIONAL TREASURE 2: THE BOOK OF SECRETS" (2007) Review




"NATIONAL TREASURE 2: BOOK OF SECRETS" (2007) Review

Released in movie theaters nearly ten years ago, "NATIONAL TREASURE 2: BOOK OF SECRETS" was the 2007 sequel to the 2004 Disney hit film, "NATIONAL TREASURE". Directed by Jon Turteltaub, the movie starred Nicholas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha and Jon Voight. 

"NATIONAL TREASURE 2: BOOK OF SECRETS" opens with a black market dealer named Mitch Wilkinson revealing to Benjamin and Patrick Gates that their 19th century ancestory, Thomas Gates, may have been the mastermind behind Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Wilkinson's alleged proof came from assassin John Wilkes Booth's diary. To prove their ancestor's innocence and family honor, Ben and Patrick recruit the aid of family friend Riley Poole and Ben's estranged girlfriend Abigail Chase to help them find that proof. Their investigation leads to the discovery that one of Riley's conspiracy theories - the existence of a secret presidential publication called "the Book of Secrets" might lead to a treasure of gold and vindication of Thomas Gates and the family's name.

Like its 2004 predecessor, "NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS" was not perfect. One . . . why end the movie at Mount Rushmore? Why end it with the discovery of the City of Gold? I understand that in the movie, Confederates had learned about the City of Gold and wished to use it for their goals. But a part of me wishes that the story had remained on the East Coast and used or created another treasure for the protagonists to find. Perhaps I would have been spared the boredom of the protagonists and the villain struggling inside some cavern longer than I thought necessary. And if I must be honest, the revelation of the City of Gold proved to be less dramatic that the Templar treasure's revelation in "NATIONAL TREASURE". This movie's finale struck me as more anti-climatic than climatic.

Despite my disappointment with the film's finale, I must admit that overall, it turned out to be just as fun and exciting as the first movie. In their goal to exonerate Thomas Gates and the family name; Ben Gates, and company followed clues that led them from Paris, to London, back to Washington D.C. and finally to Mount Rushmore in the Dakota Black Hills. The movie featured some exciting and funny sequences that I found utterly entertaining. Among my favorites were Ben's successful soothing of a Parisian traffic cop's ego; Ben, Abigail and Riley's successful attempt to gain access to one of the Buckingham Palace rooms; Ben and Abigail's minor adventure inside the White House with the latter's current boyfriend; and their adventure at the Library of Congress. 

If I had to select two sequences that I found truly outstanding, they had to be the London car chase. In this funny and very exciting sequence; Ben, Riley and Abigail raced to evade the film's main antagonist, Mitch Wilkinson and his minions through the crowded streets of London. Very well executed by director Jon Turtletaub. Another sequence that I truly enjoyed proved to be the one in which the others help Ben crash the U.S. President's birthday bash held at Mount Vernon. From the moment in which the quartet manipulated the White House staff into holding the party at George Washington's former home to which Ben "kidnapped" the President in order to learn information about the so-called "Book of Secrets". The whole thing was a joy to watch, especially Nicholas Cage and Bruce Greenwood's performances.

Commenting on Cage and Greenwood's performances in the Mount Vernon sequence made me realize that the film's most valuable asset was its cast. Cage gave a very energetic and entertaining performance as Dr. Benjamin "Ben" Gates, who is determined to clear his family's name. Watching Justin Bartha's subtle, yet hilarious performance as Ben's close friend and tech specialist, Riley Poole, made me realized that he had been vastly underused in "THE HANGOVER" movie franchise. Diane Kruger gave a very charming and this time, a funnier performance as Ben's love of his life and ex-girlfriend, Dr. Abigail Chase. 

For the first time, Jon Voight played a major role in the adventure as Ben's father and fellow historian, Dr. Patrick Gates. He was especially effective in his scenes with Helen Mirren, who portrayed his estranged ex-wife and Ben's mother. The latter was a blast as the no-nonsense Dr. Emily Appleton-Gates, who seemed to focus all of her affection upon her son. Ed Harris gave a first-rate performance as the ruthless and manipulative black market dealer, Mitch Wilkinson. Ironically, his reason for manipulating the Gates family into finding the treasure proved to be surprisingly poignant. I had earlier commented on Bruce Greenwood's performance as the President. Let me add that I found his performance very humorous and very sly. The movie also featured solid performances from the likes of Peter Woodward; Alicia Coppola; Albert Hall; Armando Riesco; a rather funny Ty Burrell; Joel Gretch, who portrayed the family's 19th century descendant Thomas Gates; and the always dependable Harvey Keitel, who returned as FBI Special Agent Sadusky.

Aside from my gripe about the film's finale sequence and the treasure itself, I must admit that I enjoyed "NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS". Thanks to Jon Turtletaub's lively direction, Cormac and Marianne Wibberley's screenplay and an outstanding cast led by Nicholas Cage, this 2007 sequel proved to be just as entertaining as the first film.

1 comment:

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