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National Treasure - Preview & US reaction



Preview by: Jack Foley

NICOLAS Cage is no stranger to Jerry Bruckheimer productions, having scored massive Box Office successes with The Rock and Con Air, as well as, to a lesser extent, Gone In 60 Seconds.

His latest collaboration, National Treasure, is due for a Thanksgiving release in the States, and unites him with Jon Turteltaub, the director of Phenomenon.

The film boasts a somewhat unlikely premise, in that it revolves around Benjamin Franklin Gates (Cage), an eighth generation archaeologist-historian searching for treasure buried by America's founding fathers.

When he discovers a map leading to the treasure has been hidden, for 200 years, on the reverse side of the Declaration of Independence, he is forced to find and steal it, in order to protect it from villains so desperate to unearth the money they'd destroy the priceless document to get it.

Needless to say, the map holds clues to an even greater adventure, as well as the inevitable race-against-time scenario.

National Treasure, while sounding like some sort of modern-day Indiana Jones adventure, boasts a strong support cast, including Diane Kruger (Helen, in Troy), Sean Bean (as Cage’s nemesis), Harvey Keitel, Jon Voight, Christopher Plummer, Don McManus, Justin Bartha and Mark Pellegrino.

And it will be seen as a film that has the potential to deliver Disney’s Touchstone Pictures a long sought-after hit, given the Box Office disappointments it has suffered with the likes of King Arthur, Hidalgo and The Alamo this year.

Bruckheimer remains confident, however, extolling the virtues of his ‘wonderful cast’.

He commented: "It's a treasure-hunt movie. It's Nic Cage, whose family's been trying to find this treasure for three or four generations, and Nic takes on the task to find it.

"The answer is on the back of the Declaration of Independence. So he's not the only person that knows this, and he's got to beat the Sean Bean character, who wants to steal it before he does. It's a good plot."

The film is scheduled for a US release on November 19 and advance word from the trailer suggests it could be fun, in the same way as previous Cage/Bruckheimer collaborations.

US reaction

It was designed to be a modern-day adventure caper to rival the feel-good factor of an Indiana Jones adventure, but the latest Bruckheimer-Cage collaboration didn't ignite with the critics as spectacularly as had been hoped.

The San Francisco Chronicle leads the chorus of indifference by stating that 'it has no ambition, little sense and false sentiment, but it does have velocity, high spirits and scale'.

While Globe and Mail felt that 'National Treasure is not so much a no-brainer as a brain-stunner, so audaciously ridiculous you are initially intrigued, then soon irritated by its incoherence'.

Worse still was the Detroit News, which wrote that it is 'a formula-action exercise that's part Indiana Jones, part Da Vinci Code, part history trivia lesson and all bluster, Treasure proves quickly that it's fool's gold at best'.

And the New York Post, which wrote that it is 'interminable and riddled with plot holes you could drive a humvee through'.

On a more positive note, however, was the Washington Post, which opined that 'the best thing about National Treasure is how clever it is'.

While the Hollywood Reporter referred to it as 'an above-average popcorn movie'.

And the Houston Chronicle felt that it is 'a joyfully convoluted adventure yarn that moves lickety-split through clichés, plot holes and overall narrative mayhem until the whole unlikely rig screeches to a halt'.

But on a more negative note, the Los Angeles Times wrote that it 'has all the soul, wit and originality of a major co-branding campaign'.

And USA Today felt that 'ten minutes into the picture, you're searching the screen for life-support machines'.

While the Chicago Sun-Times declared that 'National Treasure is so silly that the Monty Python version could use the same screenplay, line for line'.

And the New York Times wrote it off by stating: "With its ludicrous frisson of patriotism and a nod to The Da Vinci Code, a more cynical grab for Hollywood gold is hard to imagine."

Ever the optimists, however, we at IndieLondon are still hoping for an entertaining enough no-brainer, and have decided to conclude with the Chicago Tribune's verdict, which stated that it's 'alluringly over-the-top without being overcooked'.

The film opens in UK cinemas on Boxing Day.

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