"Another Roller Coaster Ride"
NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS is a fun roller-coaster ride with some delightful surprises, but it doesn’t have quite the same freshness or excitement that the first NATIONAL TREASURE movie had. The good news is that the movie has no foul language and contains a positive view of the United States, but the bad news is that there are some references to the hero and heroine living together.
The story opens with Benjamin Gates, a treasure-hunting historian played deftly by Nicolas Cage, and his father, Patrick, learning that their ancestor, Thomas Gates, may have been involved in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. To clear their ancestor’s name, they try to decipher clues left in a secret code on a page from the diary of John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin.
With help from Ben’s ex-girlfriend, Abigail, and Ben’s young assistant, Riley, they follow the clues to Paris, London and then the White House in Washington, D.C. A missing clue at the White House forces Ben to kidnap the President of the United States so he can ask the President for the location of the Book of Secrets that every president since Washington has kept. Ben believes the Book of Secrets will help clear his ancestor’s name and lead them to a legendary mythological treasure of historic proportions.
Once he understands the situation, the President agrees to let them follow the trail, but says he can’t call off the police. Ben and his friends not only must evade the authorities, they also must evade another group of treasure hunters, led by a shady adventurer named Mitch Wilkinson, whose ancestors also go back to the Civil War, but on the Confederate side. Wilkinson has fewer scruples than Ben and his father, but he will need Ben’s expertise if he really wants to find the treasure.
Adding spice to the adventure is that Ben’s father must get help from his estranged ex-wife, Emily, Ben’s mother. Emily is less than thrilled that Ben and Patrick are once again spending their lives pursuing a treasure that may not exist.
Until the third act, the jeopardy in BOOK OF SECRETS seems lighter than it was in the first movie. Also, by taking some of the action overseas, the movie doesn’t have the focus on American history like the first movie. Nevertheless, the story moves at a brisk pace, and there are some nifty action scenes, but nothing extremely intense that would preclude a family audience from going.
There are, however, some verbal references to Ben and Abigail living together before they decided to split up. One scene has them still arguing over some possessions. Also, in another scene, Abigail uses her female cleavage to distract the attention of a White House official so that Ben can look for a hidden clue. Otherwise, the movie has a strong, but mostly implied, moral worldview, with no foul language and strong pro-American content.
(BB, PP, VV, S, M) Strong but mostly implied moral worldview with strong pro-American content; no foul language; some light action violence such as man points guns, people in danger of drowning, two men shot in a historical flashback, car chase scene through narrow streets with people diving and running to get out of the way but shot in a light manner, villains use large vehicle to ram and try to stop heroes in another car, bottomless pits in treasure cave, people in danger of drowning, and people balance precariously on large tottering block of stone or wood; no bedroom scenes or sex scenes, but verbal references to unmarried couple having lived together, scene where woman uses her cleavage to distract an official, light comedy about a young man failing to attract the attention of women, and divorced older couple separated for decades argue but eventually renew their friendship, which may be headed toward renewed romance; no nudity but a shot briefly draws attention to female cleavage; no alcohol use; no smoking; and, through trickery a man detains the President of the United States to privately discuss something important with him, people evade police, people distract other people’s attention so they can look for some hidden clues in historical objects, and man makes sarcastic, but truthful and historically accurate remark about a pre-Columbian civilization indulging in human sacrifice.
NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS stars Nicolas Cage as Benjamin Gates, the treasure-hunting historian. Ben and his father, Patrick, learn that their ancestor, Thomas Gates, may have been involved in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. To clear their ancestor’s name, they try to decipher clues left in the diary of John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin. They get help from Ben’s two friends, Abigail and Riley, and, eventually, Patrick’s estranged wife, Emily, Ben’s mother. The clues lead to Paris, London, the White House, and a legendary hidden treasure in the Black Hills of North Dakota, but there is another, less scrupulous treasure hunter on their trail.
Until the third act, the jeopardy in BOOK OF SECRETS seems lighter than it was in the first movie. Nevertheless, the story moves at a brisk pace, and there are some nifty action scenes, but nothing extremely intense that would preclude a family audience. There are, however, some verbal references to Ben and Abigail living together before they decided to split up and a seductive shot of female cleavage. Otherwise, the movie has a strong moral worldview, with no foul language and strong pro-American content.