Nicolas Cage and his ridiculous haircut are back as the dauntless treasure hunter Ben Gates in National Treasure: The Book of Secrets. The second installment of the National Treasure series brings us an even more farfetched adventure than the first film, which was incredibly preposterous. But yet again, those brilliant/insane writers manage to trick us into believing the implausibilities that this movie spills out for us. This time around, Ben and his sidekick Riley (Justin Bartha) are out to clear Ben's ancestor's name, due to new evidence that suggests he may have been a conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The only way to prove his relatives innocence is by proving to the world the existence of a treasure that dates back to the 1800's. But this time around, Ben has new competition in the form of Ed Harris, a man who is trying to make a name for himself in the historical community. The evidence that Ben needs to accomplish his task lies somewhere so mysterious that many people impugn its very existence. The President's book of secrets. As you can probably conclude from the title, this was a book that only the President could lay eyes on, because it was, well, a secret. So how could Ben possibly go about getting his hands on this book? Kidnap the President of course! Did i mention it was a Jerry Bruckheimer film? At the same time, Ben must try to heal the wounds leftover from his split with his wife Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger). Although, this part of the plot doesn't seem nearly as controversial as the kidnapping. Other familiar characters return to this installment as well, such as FBI Agent Sadusky (Harvey Keitel) and Ben's father Patrick (Jon Voight).
When Book of Secrets was being written, those who penned the screenplay held nothing back in this completely over the top, unbelievable, sometimes stupid action flick. But I'll be damned if I wasn't entertained. Who would have thought that all it took to break into the Oval Office was a hot wife! It seems as though if you had proper brain function you'd know that that is completely false and extremely impossible (and also warrant for arrest), but if you are going to watch this film, you have to check your thinking cap at the door.
Nicolas Cage once again does a stellar job as the venturesome treasure hunter Ben Gates. Cage's performance manages to reflect the movie's tone perfectly in every scene he is in. He could easily switch from wisecracking jokester to stern kidnapper in a matter of seconds. Versatility, thy name is CAGE. His haircut however, leaves a lot to be desired. Justin Bartha also does much of the same as Riley Poole, providing that extra comic relief that keeps the movie in check. Diane Kreuger is pretty much meh, again, doing not much except look hot. Harvey Keitel provides even less to this movie than he did in the first film. It almost seems as though the only reason he was there was because he was under contract. Helen Mirren joins the cast this year as Ben's mother, and one can't help but wonder....why? Evidently, money can make even the most highly regarded actors and actresses deviate from their natural trend of starring in great films, and place them in a not so great blockbuster. While we are on that note, 4 time Oscar nominee Ed Harris is in this film as well. And if I'm not mistaken, Jon Voight won an Oscar way back before his days in Baby Geniuses and the Bratz movie. But I am not here to talk about Jon Voight's spiraling career, so back to business.
There is a lot more action to be appreciated in this National Treasure than in the previous one. Yes, it was probably done to make up for the ridiculous plot, but whatever works, works. The excitement level remains raised for extended periods of time that the first film lacked. Jon Turteltaub definitely takes it up a notch from the first installment in his directing style. He will not be winning any Oscars, but he deserves some kudos for managing to keep this film at a steady pace, and avoid having it sink into the lowest level of absurdity. (But it comes damn close.) Book of Secrets isn't as good as the first film, simply because it is a bit more unbelievable and convoluted, and at some points I did say "Oh, CMON", at the obvious flaws. But this is obviously a film that wasn't meant to be taken to heart in the first place, so I forgive them. Those of you who do not have the patience for a movie that completely ignores the laws of logic, I'd suggest staying away. To the rest of you, enjoy. My Rating (6/10)