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National Treasure

Starring Nicolas Cage, Justin Bartha, Sean Bean, Harvey Keitel, Diane Kruger, Christopher Plummer, Don McManus, Mark Pellegrino
Screenplay by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio
Directed by Jon Turteltaub

IN SHORT: Buy popcorn. Lots of it. [Rated PG by the MPAA for action violence and some scary images. 120 minutes]

There are a couple of things you can count on finding in any Jerry Bruckheimer production. There will be action, lots of it. There will be explosions or, failing the really big booms, lots of crashing and falling and activity to compensate. There will also be very long lines at the bathroom on the way out, 'cuz these are all marathon sits. Someone pat JB on the back for National Treasure. At just over two packed hours, it sure doesn't force any wear and tear on your bones, regardless of age. There's not a lot of fat available to cut in National Treasure as well and it doesn't move at a steady breakneck pace. Those who overdo it on the Godzilla sized soft drink will think it's moving slowly enough to enable a quick duck out. Don't.

Hundreds of years ago, the Knights Templar embarked on a Crusade to liberate the Holy Land from the hands of the Heathen. What they managed to liberate instead was the ancient treasure of the Israelite nation and more, a treasure which vanished into the depths of history. The Templars became the Freemasons and that secret society smuggled the Treasure the new world. The Gates Family has spent six generations seeking the map bearing the location of that Treasure. Grandpa John Adams Gates (Christopher Plummer) told the story to son Patrick (Jon Voight) and grandson Ben Franklin Gates (Hunter Gomez). By the time young Ben is tipped, his dad has long dismissed the story as a waste of time.

But that doesn't mean that, in the present day, a grown up Ben (Nicolas Cage) and sidekicks Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and Ian Howe (Sean Bean) aren't looking for the bits and pieces of clues, here and there. His major find, in the first ten minutes of National Treasure, yields a ridiculous strain of twisted logic. Still, it points the way towards finally locating a hard copy of a map to the location of the Treasure . The only problem is that said clue indicates that the map, or whatever it is ("probably another clue," scoffs daddy Gates) is written on the back of the Declaration of Independence, the document on public display in our nation's capital. "You're not getting near the Declaration," states National Archives conservator Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger), which leaves Ben only one option.

Steal the Declaration, get the map. Get the map, find the treasure. Yep, it's a Jerry Bruckheimer flick. Hang on for dear life as the search and or chase goes spanning the globe, from arctic wastes to the monuments and monumental buildings of Washington DC, Boston, Philadelphia and our first capitol, New York City.

Oh, and one of those sidekicks won't be anything but -- how do we put it nicely -- a dangerous nuisance to the heroes of the story. And we haven't even mentioned FBI Agent Sandusky (Harvey Keitel) who, of course, is tracking everyone like a bloodhound.

The simple summary is this: our femme friend arrived at the theater before we did and she dropped the bomb on us about the two hours plus run time of this flick. Two hours plus later, we weren't feeling the effects at all. National Treasure isn't a full on downhill ride, which would have killed us as this is the time of year when all the impossible to endure hard core heavy duty Oscar wannabes are doing their best to destroy the sanity of all critics everywhere . . .

Sorry, it's that time of year. The heavy duty thrill sequences, unfortunately, are the same that have been showing up on television for the last month or so. If you've managed to miss 'em, they're pretty good. If not, they're still worth shoving your fist into the popcorn tub. What Nic Cage brings to the table, as you'd expect, is that dry performance humor which absolutely deflated any and all skepticism we could have mustered, if the movie hadn't been so much fun to watch. That being said, we're not going to gripe about certain NYC based scenes that, post 9/11, are flat out impossible. Pilots will understand, not the rest of y'all.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to National Treasure, he would have paid . . .


You can take the kids to this one, too. There's nothing in a story so "grounded" in history that they'll complain about leaving all that stuff in school. <g>

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.