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|National Treasure: Book of Secrets|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Jon Turteltaub|
scr The Wibberleys
with Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Ed Harris, Jon Voight, Helen Mirren, Justin Bartha, Harvey Keitel, Bruce Greenwood, Ty Burrell, Michael Maize, Timothy V Murphy, Alicia Coppola
release US 21.Dec.07, UK 8.Feb.08
07/US Disney 2h04
Raiders of the lost city: Kruger, Bartha and Cage
Even more preposterous than the first film, this bloated adventure romp keeps us entertained with the sheer spectacle of the thing, rather than anything actually interesting.
Treasure-hunter Ben Gates (Cage) is horrified when his all-American family name is sullied by allegations that his ancestor planned the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Evidence provided from a mystery man (Harris), leads him to the conclusion that if he solves a series of puzzles, he can find the lost city of gold hidden by native Americans and therefore clear his family name. He's joined in this quest by his bickering ex (Kruger), his goofy sidekick (Bartha), his befuddled father (Voight) and his bickering mother (Mirren). And besides the villains, they're being followed by a tenacious FBI agent (Keitel).
Carful readers will have spotted the mammoth leap in logic right at the centre of the plot, but never mind. The story is packed with similar improbabilities as the characters progress from clue to clue towards the predictably outrageous climax and requisite comical codas. In other words, this is filmmaking by numbers, including the now-required addition of extra characters, random action sequences and spurious plot threads if the original was a mammoth hit (call this the Pirates of the Caribbean factor).
Still, even with this lack of invention and general gonzo silliness, the film is strangely engaging. Credit mainly goes to the cast members, who throw themselves into the action while always remembering which part in the puzzle they play (mystery man, goofy sidekick, befuddled father and so on). It also helps that Cage is clearly loving every minute of it, and Mirren actually squeezes in a bit of proper thesping whenever she gets the chance.
Along the way, director Turteltaub uses his big budget to give the film a frantic pace and epic feel, with busy crowd scenes, nutty car chases and globe-hopping antics in Paris, London and Washington DC. American landmarks litter the screen, while the complicated trail of clues requires our heroes to outwit the Buckingham Palace guard, White House security and the Secret Service. Child's play! Which is exactly what this increasingly nonsensical movie is.
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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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