After being presented with evidence that his great-great-grandfather was part of the Lincoln assassination, Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage) goes on a quest to clear his family name. To do so, he must follow clues that could lead to the legendary city of gold, Cibola.
If you’ve seen National Treasure, you will know what to expect out of National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. What makes this work as a sequel is that it keeps what was great from the first film and puts it into a new story. The same characters are here doing the same thing, which might sound like a rehash but it is no different than Indiana Jones or Lora Croft going on another adventure. It may be the same concept but the execution is different.
Nicolas Cage, Justin Bartha, and Diane Kruger all return and maintain their great chemistry. The banter between the three of them, like the first film, is so much fun. Together, they make the film work. Helen Mirren was an absolute joy and a great addition to the cast. She fit right in with Cage, Bartha, and Kruger and is clearly having as much fun as they are.
The baddie this time is Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris), the man who presents the evidence against Gates’ ancestor. Ian Howe was a good counterpart to Gates in the previous movie but he didn’t feel menacing. I didn’t not like him, which can actually take away from a villain. Mitch was one of those characters that I love to hate. Like Ian, he proves that he can go toe-to-toe with Gates but Mitch has the attitude to feel like the bad guy. Maybe it was the difference between Sean Bean and Ed Harris or maybe it was the way the characters were written. Either way, the villain was much stronger this time.
Since this is the second film, we know all about these characters and what they do. Therefore, National Treasure 2 doesn’t waste any time before heading out on the search for the treasure. Within the first scene, the hunt is set up and the Ben (Cage), Riley (Bartha), and Abigail (Kruger) are on their way. It helps get the film moving and spend maximum time watching them on their search.
National Treasure was all about US history and our founding fathers. National Treasure 2 is still about US history but it also incorporates international locations as well. One clue leads the group to France and another send them to England. Since our history is influenced by many others from many different countries and nationalities, it was fun to see that aspect of our history integrated into the story.
I’m going to talk about some spoilers so if you haven’t seen the film, skip this paragraph. OK, so the whole hunt was to prove that the reason Thomas Gates (Ben’s ancestor) tried to destroy the page from Booth’s diary was to destroy the treasure map, while Mitch claimed Thomas burned the page to hide his involvement in the plot to assassinate President Lincoln. Finding the City of Gold was somehow supposed to prove Ben’s point. But the film never answers why Thomas’ name was on page in the first place. Following the map and finding where it leads doesn’t prove that he wasn’t involved. Although as the viewer we can assume that Thomas wasn’t involved in the assassination plot and he burned it to destroy the treasure map, we are never actually given an explanation as to why his name is on the page.
I thought National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets was GOOD :-). The great chemistry between the three leads returns and the villain is much more threatening this time around. If you enjoyed the previous film, there is no doubt that you will enjoy this film as well.
Also check out my review of National Treasure.
Cast & Crew
Jon Turtletaub – Director
Marianne Wibberley – Screenplay / Story
Cormac Wibberley – Screenplay / Story
Gegory Poirier – Story
Ted Elliot – Story
Terry Russio – Story
Trevor Rabin – Score
Nicolas Cage – Ben Gates
Justin Bartha – Riley Poole
Diane Kruger – Abigail Chase
Jon Voight – Patrick Gates
Helen Mirren – Emily Appleton
Ed Harris – Mitch Wilkinson
Harvey Keitel – Sadusky
Bruce Greenwood – The President
Ty Burrell – Conner
Michael Maize – Daniel
Timothy V. Murphy – Seth
Alicia Coppola – FBI Agent Spellman
Armando Riesco – FBI Agent Hendricks
Joel Gretsch – Thomas Gates
William Brent – Charles Gates
Brent Briscoe – Michael O’Laughlen
Christian Camargo – John Wilkes Booth