Directed by Jon Turtletaub
Reviewed by MaT, added on Jan 1 2005
I'll be honest, I went into this movie with extremely low expectations even though I was excited about the premise and the possibilities. I figured this would just be another craptacular hollywood special fx bonanza with little to no plot and wasted opportunities. However, I was completely surprised and was giddily talking about the film after I left the theater, and not in a language of disgust and disdain towards what I feared would be yet another horrible adventure flick like Tomb Raider.
National Treasure stars Nicholas Cage as a life long treasure hunter. His family has been searching for the Knights Templar's hidden treasure for generations, believing that a vast conspiracy concocted by the Masons has kept it from being found, but has left clues to its whereabouts. Jon Voight plays Cage's father who was once a believer in the lost treasure, but has now given up on the possiblity of its existence and believes all of the stories to be fairytales. Cage, of course, believes the stories are real and has just found one of the final pieces to the puzzle. He then sets off to discover the treasure before an evil millionare, played by Sean Bean, and his goons can find it first.
As I mentioned before, I enjoyed this film quite a bit. That might be due in part to the low expectations I took with me to the theatre, but nevertheless, the film had me smiling throughout and left me feeling satisfied. I have no doubt that I will get ridiculed by my friend's because of it, but it was cool dammit! The film's strongest aspect is definitely its story. As you have probably heard during the numerous trailers being shown on television, the main aspect of the plot revolves around an invisible treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence, but that doesn't even scratch the surface of the twists, turns, and clues that are strewn throughout the film. With each new clue that Cage discovers, you'll find yourself trying to figure out where it fits in this giant puzzle. At some points, you'll actually feel as if you are right there with the treasure hunters, sharing their disappointments and jubilations. Plus, you'll just be curious, "What the hell is the "treasure"? You won't be disappointed. It's pretty cool to watch the big finale.
Nicholas Cage did a great job in his role. His charming, goofy personality made the movie a lot more personable. The rest of the cast were only so-so, but all were serviceable and nobody had so bad a performance as to take away from the overall appeal of the film. No matter how much fun I had with this flick, I can't ignore a lot of glaring problems. First off, you'll really have to check your brain at the door. Two guys, in the span of a couple of days and with no experience in robbery, just stole the Declaration of Independence?! Sorry, no way. I think the director realized this, and a lot of the big action scenes that seem improbable, were pulled off with just enough flair and filled with enough excitement, that you won't really be upset by the impossiblity of it all while watching the film.
The film also seemed to get a little slow during parts. For myself, this was mainly caused by the plot. I was having so much fun with the idea that our founding fathers went through all this trouble to hide a great treasure, that I found myself getting impatient and wanting Cage to find the next clue so I could try to figure it all out along with him. Some of the dialogue is a little hokey and some of the humor isn't funny, but thankfully, those are few and far between.
What can I say? I really liked this movie, though I can completely understand how people could hate it. I really dug the story, Cage's performance, the twists and turns, and of course, the big finale. I love a good conspiracy theory and this movie brought to mind many of those "What If?!" conversations I had with my friends back in middle school. If you are in the mood for a fun adventure film that has a really cool story and doesn't take itself too seriously, then National Treasure will be right up your alley.