What can be said about an actor of Nicholas Cage’s caliber besides the fact that he’s obviously got range. He’s an actor that pushes himself in the wackiest of ways, his expressions and timeless caricature-based roles are what make him so celebrated as an actor. There’s barely anyone else out there who plays the same roles as Nicolas Cage. He does play parts in smaller scale films, so it was a delight to see him in a film such as National Treasure, furthermore, he did the sequels as well consecutively and kept portraying his role in them. However, the franchise lost its mojo quite early on and 2007’s Book of Secrets is the biggest example of that.
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The Movie Review
Ben Gates and his father Patrick Gates are astonished by Mitch Wilkinson’s assertion that their grandfather was a conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln based on the missing page of Booth’s journal that he has in his possession during a presentation about John Wilkes Booth and Thomas Gates.
Ben, who is enraged, decides to restore the honor of his ancestor. He travels to France, England, and Washington, D.C., with his wife Abigail and his best friend, the author Riley Poole, to gather the information that would help them find the lost city of gold – The Cíbola, and clear Thomas Gates name. But Mitch Wilkinson is following Ben and his pals’ every move in an effort to claim the glory of discovering the wealth for himself.
Let’s talk about the direction first, one plot point leads to another, and each one feels too convenient as if the whole thing had been rigged from the start. It’s still a lot of fun watching the characters go through the motions thinking that they’re onto something really big but being getting nothing other than more questions being piled onto their plateau of mysteries.
The number of riddles has been significantly reduced this time around, and there are hints of Mission: Impossible creeping in. The tasks are much larger than life here and the security is tighter everywhere they go. The first film had a lot of puzzles to solve, which kept some of us guessing and playing along, but this film has a more linear approach which doesn’t feel as good.
In all honesty, the movie doesn’t seem to be all that interested in giving any of its characters more nuance. Sure, they have their disagreements, but since Ed Harris’ Mitch Wilkinson is the stereotypically boring villain who wants to leave his imprint on history, the focus is frequently shifted to the upcoming spectacular stunt or hot pursuit scene.
Thankfully, the ensemble is fantastic, Nicolas Cage is playing a part he is extremely familiar with, Jon Voight is excellent as Cage’s father, and Ed Harris plays a clichéd bad guy but manages to appear threatening. Helen Mirren also performs a fantastic job here, but Diane Kruger is the best of the bunch. Only Bartha seems a little out of place, but his comedic timing works wonderfully in this situation. Another highlight has Harvey Keitel, who gives a brief but effective performance as an FBI agent.
Amir Mokri who creates some glitzy cinematography had taken the place of the previous cinematographer Caleb Deschanel. However, even the director of photography Amir Mokri was then replaced by John Schwartzman a few weeks into the filming because of alleged “creative issues” between Mokri and Turteltaub. This gives the film a very random feeling in terms of cinematography, and it makes the film a bit less pleasant to the eyes and more confused overall.
Sound & Music
The music by Trevor Rabin is a highlight for sure, but the same score is repeated so many times throughout the film that it starts to get a bit frustrating by the end. This gives the film’s aesthetic a huge downgrade, as the audience will be begging for some variety in the music and camerawork.
Although it has three or four funny parts, National Treasure: Book of Secrets has an abundance of flaws. These include a convoluted plot, a mediocre script, and a climax that comes for the characters far too easily. Despite everything, the movie is nevertheless a lot of fun, in part because of some entertaining action scenes with good special effects, and, of course, because of the delightful chemistry between the characters, and lovable performances by Nicolas Cage, Helen Mireen, Diane Kruger, Jon Voight, and Ed Harris.
- Entertaining action sequences and chase scenes
- Good performances
- The writing is quite funny at times
- The film has a lack of suspense and mystery
- The pacing is completely off due to the convoluted plot and mediocre script
- The soundtrack gets quite repetitive
- Visually there’s not much to love, it’s a confused production