Less engrossing than its 2004 predecessor National Treasure
, Jon Turteltaubs busy sequel National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets
is nevertheless a colourful and witty adventure, another race against overwhelming odds for the answer to a historical riddle. Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage), the treasure hunter who feverishly sought, in the first film, the whereabouts of a war chest hidden by Americas forefathers, is now charged with protecting family honour. When a rival (Ed Harris) offers alleged proof that Gates ancestor, Thomas Gates, was not a Civil War-era hero but a participant in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Ben and his father (Jon Voight) and crew (Justin Bartha, Diane Kruger) hopscotch through Paris, London, Washington DC, and South Dakota to gather evidence refuting the claim.
The film is most fun when the hunt, as in National Treasure, squeezes Ben into such impossible situations as examining twin desks in the queens chambers in Buckingham Palace and the White Houses Oval Office, or kidnapping an American president (Bruce Greenwood) for a few minutes of frank talk. Helen Mirren, the previous year's Oscar winner for Best Actress, wisely joins the cast of a likely hit film as Bens archaeologist mother, long-estranged from Voights character but as feisty as the rest of the family. Returning director Turteltaub takes excellent advantage of his colorful backdrops in European capitals and the always-eerie Mount Rushmore, and oversees some wildly imaginative sets for this dramedys feverish third act in an audacious and completely unexpected, legendary setting. If National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets doesnt feel quite as crisp and unique as its predecessor, it is still ingenious and wry enough to laugh a bit at itself. --Tom Keogh
Treasure hunter Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) embarks on a new adventure in director Jon Turtletaub's sequel to National Treasure
. Ben and his father, Patrick (Jon Voight), take great pride in their ancestors and their family's devotion to the United States. When Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) produces a page from the diary of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth allegedly linking Ben's great-great grandfather to the plot, Ben and Patrick set out on a path to clear their family's name. Ben also believes that the diary page contains hints to the whereabouts of a treasure map leading to an ancient city of gold, and soon the hunt is on. Tech expert Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and Ben's now ex-girlfriend Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) join the Gates in their quest, which takes them from Washington, DC, to Paris, London and the Black Hills of South Dakota.
It's true that the storyline and the actions of Gates and his team--which include breaking into the Queen's study at Buckingham Palace, sneaking into the Oval Office, and kidnapping the President of the United States--are completely unbelievable. But with a storyline built on true, interesting trivia and great locations, this film is an amusing, family-friendly romp. Cage has some great moments as Gates-- loyal, patriotic, fair to a fault, and very funny as he goads on Buckingham Palace security. Harris plays Wilkinson with just the right air of mystery and menace: is he after fortune, or does he just want to leave his own mark in history? Helen Mirren fits the bill as Ben's mother and Patrick's estranged ex-wife, Emily, a scholar and historian in her own right.