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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » January 16, 2008
Film review
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National Treasure: Book of Secrets
January 16, 2008 By Witold ¯ygulski   
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It has taken director John Turteltaub (Instinct) three years to come up with this sequel to his 2004 film, National Treasure. This may be because Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas, Lord of War) had to be talked out of his steadfast refusal to play in sequels. The result?

National Treasure: Book of Secrets is pretty much a clone of its predecessor. This probably comes as good news for the producers given the original was an unexpected $350 million box office hit. Whether it's good news for you depends on what you thought of the original.

Finding the legendary treasure of the Knights Templar had once brought Ben Gates (Cage) wealth, fame and the affections of the lovely Abigail Chase, Ph.D. (Diane Kruger-Troy, Wicker Park). Now the wheels are starting to come off. His relationship has fallen apart and he has had to move out of his luxurious mansion and into the modest home of his father (Jon Voight-Midnight Cowboy, The Odessa File, Pearl Harbor). As if all this weren't bad enough, it turns out that one of his forebears might have been involved in the conspiracy that led to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Well, at least that's what some mysterious and fragmentary documents brought to light by the equally shadowy Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris-The Rock, Pollock, Copying Beethoven) tend to suggest. Wilkinson is an antique bookseller who doubles as the leader of a band of mercenaries.

Gates has little option but to defend his forefather's good name by unraveling the clues to this historical riddle. These have inconveniently been tucked away in inaccessible places like the Statue of Liberty in Paris, Buckingham Palace, the Oval Office and underneath Mount Rushmore. It gradually transpires that this may in fact be a quest to find the legendary pre-Columbian Golden City. Apart from having to break into some of the most heavily guarded bastions on both sides of the Atlantic, Gates actually needs to abduct the President of the United States (Bruce Greenwood-13 Days, Double Jeopardy), all the while staying clear of Wilkinson and his goons.

Apart from his father and Chase, whose curiosity gets the better of her animosity, Gates is assisted by electronics guru Riley Poole (Justin Bartha-Gigli). Poole has problems enough of his own although his are of a somewhat more mundane nature than Gates's. The millions he received for his part in finding the Templars' treasure have attracted the attention of the tax authorities-who have towed away his favorite red Ferrari-but the book he wrote on the subject isn't attracting many buyers.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets revisits all the clichés of its predecessor. Just in case that doesn't work, the producers have trotted out the ace of the third Indiana Jones movie where the story was given a boost by introducing Jones's archeologist father, brilliantly played by Sean Connery. As Gates's father is already familiar to viewers of National Treasure, his mother, Prof. Emily Appleton (Helen Mirren-The Queen, Madness of King George), has been pressed into service. Appleton just happens to be an academic specializing in native American languages. She is initially reluctant to help her son, let alone her ex-husband to whom she is now speaking for the first time in 32 years, but eventually comes round. And just as well. She is by far the most expressive character in the movie and steals the show whenever she appears.
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