Director: Jon Turteltaub
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Justin Bartha, Sean Bean
Watch National Treasure online in the UK: Amazon Instant / TalkTalk TV / iTunes / Google Play
“I’m going to steal the Declaration of Independence.”
Nicolas Cage utters this immortal line and launches National Treasure into an adventure across the USA to find the secret treasure of the Knights Templar. Actually, that’s not true, but it’s a great line.
Let’s rewind to the actual beginning. Benjamin Franklin Gates (Cage) comes from a long line of Gates family members who have been entrusted with the secret to uncovering the final resting place of the infamous treasure – a treasure fought over for hundreds of years. After finding the location of the first clue, Ben and Riley (Justin Bartha, who doesn’t get left on a roof for the entire film) are double-crossed by their associate, Ian (Sean Bean, who doesn’t die), and left in the Arctic with the knowledge that he’ll be stealing the Declaration of Independence. And we’re back to where we started. Wasn’t that fun?
National Treasure marked the return of the fairly fruitful combination of producer Jerry Bruckheimer and his star, The Cage, who previously worked together on action favourites The Rock, Con Air and Gone in 60 Seconds. It also came fresh off the back of live-action Disney mega-hit Pirates of the Caribbean – again, produced by Bruckheimer. Is it any good, though?
Yes. It’s very good. Director Jon Turteltaub keeps the mayhem moving quickly, eagerly darting from city to city. It’s exactly the film you’d want to be watching; exciting and interesting, but also light-hearted and amusing. The Da Vinci Code proved popular around the same time and it shares some similarities, but it sidesteps the religious aspect to focus on symbols and secret societies, borrowing from them without getting bogged down in too much history.
Cage manages to stay clear of any Indiana Jones impressions; he’s the right side of cocky as he works out clues, while also trying to carry the expectations of a family broken apart by this secret. Sean Bean and Harvey Keitel provide villainy, as Bean chases after the treasure in a less than legitimate way. and Keitel plays the FBI detective tasked with hunting the Declaration of Independence back down.
Disney’s bright lights above the film could give the impression that National Treasure is going to be aimed at younger audiences. Although it probably is, that doesn’t mean the film is any less enjoyable. It’s a fun couple of hours – and Nicolas Cage steals the Declaration of Independence.