National Treasure : Book of Secrets (2007) : The Gang’s All Here [Mike’s Review]
Today on Cage Club we try to clear our ancestor’s good name in National Treasure : Book of Secrets. This is another first at Cage Club because this is the first sequel that Cage has made. National Treasure was fun and the premise was ripe for sequels, but is this movie everything it could have been or does it suffer from sequelitis ? I really liked that they got everyone back this time around, well Sean Bean isn’t back because he’s serving time after getting caught in the last movie. We do have Ben Gates, his Dad, Riley and the beautiful Dr. Abby Chase teaming up to prove that Ed Harris ( the new villain ) is wrong about his claim, that Thomas Gates helped to orchestrate the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. That is the plot this time around when the film starts, there is no treasure hunt as of yet, only the plan to clear Thomas Gates’ good name. New baddie Ed Harris is from the family of some angry Confederates that wants to use the defamation of the Gates men to force them to find a secret treasure hidden somewhere in America. So there is a treasure, but it’s not immediately the focus of the hunt. Finding the treasure will be the means to clearing his ancestors good name, but the hunt starts without the knowledge that another massive treasure exists somewhere in the country.
The movie starts the night Lincoln was shot and Ben Gates’ ancestor is chilling in a bar when some Confederates come to him with a secret code that needs to be cracked. This code is from the diary of John Wilkes Booth, the man who is reasonable for shooting Lincoln. The movie says that he and his confederate pals were searching for a secret treasure but can’t decipher the clue that leads to the next clue, so they corner Gates in the bar and force him to decode it. Lincoln is killed and in the panic afterwards so is Thomas Gates, and with it the possibility of finding the treasure for hundreds of years. The movie cuts to modern times where Cage and his Dad are giving a presentation on civilian heroes of the Civil War about everything we just saw in the opening regarding his great grandfathers heroism when Ed Harris stands up and accuses the Gates family of actually being in on the plot to kill Lincoln. This sparks the first hunt, the hunt to clear the family name.
The gang decodes the Booth Diary and it sends them on an International Treasure hunt across the pond to France and London where they must find the resolute desks that contains clues to clear his ancestors good name, but the clues seem to lead to much more than anyone expected. In the first desk is an ancient piece of wood with symbols on it that seem to suggest another treasure is out there somewhere. They get Ben’s mother in on the hunt and she decodes the old wood and glyphs for the team. It seems the wood hints at the location of the real “City of Gold” an ancient treasure older than America herself. The second desk is in the Oval Office, so it’s back to America and time to break into the white house. The wood in that desk is gone so Cage must rely on Riley and Agent Sadusky, played again by Harvey Keitel, to inform him about the actual “Book Of Secrets”. This is a book that presidents hand down from one to the next and includes all the information you need to know about the biggest conspiracies on the planet. In order to get access to the book, Ben must kidnap the President of the United States, the only line crazier than the one from the first movie, “I have to steal the declaration of independence”.
Once Ben gets access to the Book of Secrets he is a fugitive and the chase to find the City of Gold is the main focus. Somehow finding the treasure will clear his ancestors name and also clear him of any charges brought up against him for allegedly kidnapping the president. Everyone meets up at Mt. Rushmore where the final clues have led everyone, and even Ed Harris is there after kidnapping Mother Gates and forcing her to work with him. At the mountain they find the secret entrance into the rocks where a series of bobby traps and adventurous set pieces stand in their way. Like the first film, they must go down to get out and indeed stumble upon a small underground city of golden pyramids !!!! It’s the fabled city of gold, which is more like a town of gold, but still impressive none the less. There is no time of r celebrating just yet though because the water is rushing in to drown everyone so they have to escape and come back later with a crew to catalog everything. The exciting and daring water filled escape from the lost city claims the life of Ed Harris, who only wanted to do what Ben did in the first film, secure a place in history for his family’s name by finding the treasure. He sacrifices himself so everyone else can live and when the time comes, Ben tables the president that Ed Harris was just as integral to finding the treasure as he was, thus clearing his name and securing his families place in American History.
I felt like this movie has some rough spots but ultimately I enjoyed it for the fun family adventure that it is. I felt that all the characters were consistent from the last one to this and even thought the script is a total mess, and partially not even complete when they started shooting, I still get a good sense of fun and adventure from the experience. There are some really stand out moments from Cage, like him causing a scene in London or arguing with a child at the White House Easter Egg Hunt. I feel like the plot wasn’t as important this time and I was having fun just hanging with these characters again. I realize my opinion is not the popular one and I think I enjoyed this more than Joey did, but that doesn’t mean it’s all good. There are definite problems here, mostly that it’s basically a retread of the first film. Sure they go to Europe and other parts of America, but the structure of finding a treasure while being pursued by evil treasure hunters was exactly like the first film. This movie hits many of the same moments as the first too. Instead of Ben not wanting to see his Dad, not its his Dad not wanting to see his Mom. I still think it all works because they hooked me with the first film.
That will do it for this entry into the Cage Club. Coming up next we leave the country again and head to Bangkok as Cage plays a hit man looking for a new line of work and a new life to go with it. It’s another remake here on Cage Club next time with Bangkok Dangerous.