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National Treasure: Book of Secrets

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

SOME films defy logic in their ability to entertain. Hence, when Nicolas Cage first announced that he would have to steal the Declaration of Independence in the original National Treasure in 2004 few could have predicted just how much of a guilty pleasure the ensuing caper would become.

He’s up to his old tricks again in National Treasure: Book of Secrets, locating a treasure map in the Statue of Liberty and kidnapping the US president among other things, in another gleeful romp that provides more than its fair share of thrills and spills.

This time around fortune hunter Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage) attempts to clear his family’s name by discovering the truth behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln centuries earlier.

His search takes him on a global adventure encompassing Paris, London and the US and is given added impetus by the presence of a rival history buff (Ed Harris) with his own motivation for following the clues.

As silly as it sounds, Book of Secrets does crowd-please in all the right ways thanks to some imaginative set pieces (including a cracking London-based car chase), some snappy direction and a top-drawer cast.

Cage seems to be enjoying himself, especially when “losing it” at Buckingham Palace, and is well supported by the likes of Jon Voight and Helen Mirren (as his bickering parents), Justin Bartha (as his quick-witted sidekick), Ed Harris (as the token villain) and Bruce Greenwood (as the US president) – although quite what appealed to such an Oscar calibre gathering is a mystery that even Gates might have trouble solving!

In plot terms, there are enough holes to bring down a dam even though some of the historical elements are grounded in reality. But part of the fun is in seeing just how far credibility can be strained – and returning director Jon Turteltaub certainly takes advantage of every opportunity given to him!

Book of Secrets does eventually run out of steam during its lengthy final confrontation and ultimately still feels like an Indiana Jones wannabe (with elements of The Da Vinci Code thrown in). But by keeping its tongue firmly in its cheek and acknowledging its own stupidity it offers easy appeal for undemanding viewers that caters for almost every age.

You’ll cringe in places but it’ll keep you engaged as only a Jerry Bruckheimer produced blockbuster knows how!

Certificate: PG
Running time: 2hrs 4mins
UK DVD Release Date: June 2, 2008