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National Treasure
3/5
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Jon Turteltaub
scr Jim Kouf, Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley
with Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Sean Bean, Harvey Keitel, Jon Voight, Christopher Plummer, David Dayan Fisher, Mark Pellegrino, Oleg Taktarov, Stewart Finlay-McLennan, Stephen Pope
release US 19.Nov.04, UK 26.Dec.04
Disney
04/US 2h11

Finding the next clue: Kruger, Cage and Bartha

cage kruger bartha
bean voight keitel

NATIONAL TREASURE:
BOOK OF SECRETS (2007)

National Treasure Jerry Bruckheimer continues his fiendish shift into family entertainment with this wonderfully crowd-pleasing action romp. It's about as edgy as a child-friendly TV movie--no sex or language or real violence (only one person dies despite lots of badly aimed gunplay and abyss-dangling daredevilry). And despite being at least a half hour too long, it's great fun while it lasts.

Benjamin Franklin Gates (Cage) is the last in a long family line seeking the lost treasure of the Knights Templar, hidden by America's Founding (Masonic) Fathers. But when he gets the first break in the 200-year-old mystery, he's double-crossed by his partner (Bean). Now the race is on to read an invisible map hidden on the Declaration of Independence! Ben's accompanied by his able assistant (Bartha), his sceptical father (Voight) and a sexy National Archives official (Kruger)--with the villain and a clever FBI agent (Keitel) hot on their heels.

This film bears more than a passing resemblance to Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, although it skips over the true meaning of all those strange symbols embedded throughout history in lieu of mindless, rip-roaring action. It's almost like a kiddie version of the novel, except that children will probably find the film rather long and boring, since the film is an extended series of clues and puzzles that go on and on. And on. Without deepening into anything more intriguing than action movie cliches.

But it's still extremely watchable. Cage does the accidental adventurer thing rather well, and Kruger holds her own with some very witty dialog. Bartha also makes the most of his comic sidekick role; he not only gets all the best lines of dialog, but his visual asides are brilliant, and actually make his character the most interesting person in the film (something the filmmakers obviously realised by the time they wrote the epilogue) .

Turteltaub never gets to add much of a directorial stamp--he's merely another efficient interpreter of the Bruckheimer formula--various chase scenes, a few explosions, witty banter and a superfluous romance. But if the formula sells tickets, why fix it?

cert PG some violence and innuendo 28.Nov.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... National Treasure Laurie T, Mineapolis: "Thought it was an awesome adventure - and just a whole lot of fun. Go see it if you can!" (19.Dec.04)
2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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