A/V Room









National Treasure (PG)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 'National Treasure' On Location. Opening Scene Animatic. Alternate Ending. Deleted Scenes. Treasure Hunters Uncovered. The Knights Templar. Riley's Decode This. Roadblock Easter Egg.

FROM its ridiculous premise alone, you could be forgiven for thinking that National Treasure is a discovery not worth making.

But if you suspend belief entirely, this contemporary Indiana Jones is an enjoyable romp that provides some decent, old-fashioned family entertainment.

Nicolas Cage stars as Benjamin Franklin Gates, the latest in a family of treasure hunters, who believes that the nation's Founding Fathers discovered the legendary treasure of the Knights Templar and subsequently hid the clues to its location all over the world.

One such clue lies on the back of The Declaration of Independence and it is up to Gates and co - including Diane Kruger's unwitting government archives conservator, and Justin Bartha's computer nerd - to steal it before it falls into the hands of Sean Bean's rival treasure seeker.

The ensuing quest for the treasure takes viewers from the deepest depths of the Arctic, to underground New York, and Independence Hall, in Philadelphia, while keeping its tongue firmly in cheek and tossing in plenty of problems to solve along the way (not to mention the obligatory romantic entanglement between Cage and Kruger).

And it's a competent mix of history and energy that has enough going for it to keep audiences enthralled every step of the way.

National Treasure marks the fourth collaboration between Cage and producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, after The Rock, Con Air and Gone in 60 Seconds, and it's safe to say that the combination is still working.

While not quite as exciting or innovative as Spielberg's Indiana Jones movies, or classic thrillers such as To Catch A Thief and Charade (which it blatantly references), the film is a guilty pleasure for anyone willing to give in to its charms.

The rivalry between Cage and Bean is nicely played (as the two also share a begrudging respect for each other), while the chemistry between Cage, Kruger and Bartha is extremely endearing, making it easy to spend time in their company.

And while the set pieces have certainly been toned down by director, Jon Turteltaub, to cater for a younger audience, they still possess enough panache to get the pulse racing.

The theft of the actual Declaration of Independence, for instance, is extremely well-handled, as are several of the chase sequences which litter proceedings (including a rooftop pursuit through Philadelphia).

And the presence of a strong support cast, including veterans Christopher Plummer, Jon Voight and Harvey Keitel, also serves to lend the film much more credibility and gravitas than it probably deserves.

On the down side, the film is a tad too long and would most certainly have benefited from some pruning, making it one to avoid for anyone with really young children, but it's a small price to pay for the overall enjoyment it provides.

National Treasure, as we have come to expect from a Bruckheimer movie, is a slick, pacy and harmless affair which, while not as golden as some of his best efforts, certainly glistens brightly among them.


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