In National Treasure: Book of Secrets, historian/treasure hunter Ben Franklin
Gates (Nicolas Cage) returns to decipher a string of clues that lead to a
fabulous lost historic treasure. In Book of Secrets, the treasure in
question is the fabled city of gold, Cebola. The National Treasure films
try to be part Indiana Jones, part The Da Vinci Code, a combination with a lot
of interesting potential. While Book of Secrets fails to live up to that
potential, it does manage to provide some family friendly escapist fare that
delivers an entertaining enough experience as long as you don't try to take it
The story opens on the night of Lincoln's assassination when an ancestor of
Gates is forced to break a cipher for Booth and his conspirators. The
cipher is the first clue on a trail that leads to the city of gold. fast
forward to the present day when the cipher reappears in the hands of one of
Gates' rivals, Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris). Wilkinson uses it to accuse
Gates' ancestor of involvement in Lincoln's assassination knowing that it will
send Gates off on a quest for the lost city to prove his ancestor's innocence.
What follows is a globe-hopping journey to acquire one clue after another on the
trail of the city of gold.
The movie requires you to accept plenty of leaps of faith and ignore gaping
holes in the plot in the interest of lighthearted adventure. Gates manages
to solve each clue in about thirty seconds and then he's off to the location of
the next clue which invariably has him breaking into places such as Buckingham
Palace and the Oval Office. Gates' geeky sidekick Riley Poole (Justin
Bartha) is his deus ex machina in tow, conveniently hacking into security
systems in seconds to help Gates overcome one obstacle after another. The
final clue leads them to the conspiracy theorist's dream tome, the Presidential
Book of Secrets, which is a book of national secrets written by presidents for
presidents' eyes only.
If you're going to take the movie seriously, you'll only grow angry with it
as it moves from one "Oh, come on!" moment to the next. Accepting Cage as
a history expert who's part action hero is a necessary concession, as is putting
up with the dialog which consists of continuous lighthearted bickering between
the protagonists. Just sit back and accept it all and it is not a bad
little adventure yarn that will have its strongest appeal to preteen boys.
Watch it with your family and let them all enjoy the adventure.