Movie Review – National Treasure 2: Book Of Secrets


Principal Cast :  Nicolas Cage, Justin Bartha, Diane Kruger, Jon Voight, Helen Mirren, Ed Harris, Harvey Keitel, Armando Riesco, Alicia Coppola, Albert Hall, Bruce Greenwood, Ty Burrell, Michael Maize, Timothy V Murphy.
Synopsis:  Ben Gates returns to locate the whereabouts of a mysterious “Book of Secrets”, a tome which will unlock a secret dating back to the the formation of America.


In the depths of great adventure cinema, there are those rare gems that stand the test of time. Among them shines National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, a sequel that not only continues the thrilling saga of Benjamin Gates and his treasure-hunting compatriots but also adds new layers of intrigue, adventure, and camaraderie. Directed by Jon Turteltaub and released in 2007, this film is a testament to the enduring appeal of stories that combine history, mystery, and an audacious quest for the unknown.

The film opens with a gripping prologue that dives headlong into American history, setting the stage for a mesmerizing tale. We are introduced to the Booth family, forever marked by their infamous ancestor, John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln. However, in a daring twist, the film suggests that Booth may have concealed more than just his guilt. At the heart of the mystery lies a cryptic page torn from Booth’s diary, a page that could exonerate Thomas Gates, Ben’s great-great-grandfather, who was ensnared in the Lincoln assassination conspiracy. This revelation acts as the spark, igniting a fiery determination within Ben Gates, our intrepid hero portrayed by the versatile Nicolas Cage. Joined by his loyal comrades, the witty Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and the ever-graceful Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger), as well as his father, Patrick Gates (Jon Voight), the team embarks on an epic quest to unearth the truth concealed within the missing page. Their treasure hunt takes them to various historical landmarks, each shrouded in its own enigma, riddle, or shadowy history. From deciphering the secrets of the “Presidential Book of Secrets” to an exhilarating search beneath the monumental visages of Mount Rushmore and a breath-taking chase through the bustling streets of London, the adventure unfolds with breath-taking splendour and exhilarating stakes.

At the heart of National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets is an enthralling premise that forms the bedrock upon which the entire narrative is built. It tantalizingly suggests that history is a rich tapestry interwoven with secrets, mysteries, and hidden chambers that await discovery by the inquisitive and the daring. This premise, far from being flimsy, creates a solid foundation upon which to craft a tale that weaves history, fact, myth, and fiction into a seamless and compelling narrative. The film is unapologetic in its love for history and the charm of a good treasure hunt. It encapsulates the very essence of curiosity and the quest for answers, which have driven humanity to explore the unknown since time immemorial. Ben Gates is not merely a treasure hunter; he’s a historical detective, a modern-day Indiana Jones, who epitomizes the very spirit of exploration and the unquenchable thirst for knowledge.

While the film takes creative liberties with historical facts, it does so with a gleeful spirit, inviting us to suspend our disbelief and become part of an exhilarating adventure that blurs the line between history and fantasy. Here are some of the central historical and mythological elements alluded to in the film:

      • The Lincoln Conspiracy Theories: The film introduces us to an intriguing theory that suggests John Wilkes Booth, the infamous assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, may not have acted alone. Instead, it hints at the possibility of a more extensive conspiracy involving powerful figures. While this theory lacks historical substantiation, it adds layers of intrigue to the narrative, beckoning us to imagine the unknown.
      • Mount Rushmore and Its Secrets: The film takes us to Mount Rushmore, one of the United States’ most iconic landmarks, and presents an audacious concept—the existence of a hidden chamber concealed behind the monumental visages of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. While this idea is a work of pure fiction, it captures our imagination, combining audacity with grandeur, ultimately creating an exhilarating adventure brimming with daring escapades.
      • The Resolute Desk: The film introduces the Resolute Desk, a genuine historical artefact presented to President Rutherford B. Hayes by Queen Victoria in 1880. In the film, the desk becomes a storytelling device, concealing a hidden compartment that harbours another clue in the treasure hunt. While the actual desk symbolizes Anglo-American goodwill, the film transforms it into a source of mystery and intrigue, adding an extra layer to the treasure hunt.

A stellar cast breathes life into the characters that have become beloved icons within the National Treasure franchise, each with their own unique charm and significance. Nicolas Cage’s portrayal of Ben Gates is a fun blend of enthusiasm, curiosity, and eccentricity. His unwavering zeal for history and his unyielding commitment to clearing his family’s name are utterly infectious. Ben is a treasure hunter with a heart of gold, and Cage’s performance captures his charismatic quirkiness with perfection. Diane Kruger’s Abigail Chase provides an essential counterbalance to the adventurous chaos that often ensues. As the curator of the National Archives, she brings an air of academic credibility and reason to the team’s explorations. Her character development, from the first film to the sequel, is noteworthy, as she becomes more intricately involved in the treasure hunt and deepens her connection with Ben. Kruger’s performance is a perfect blend of strength and endearment, enhancing the emotional core of the film. Justin Bartha’s Riley Poole is the comic relief of the series, consistently delivering witty one-liners and maintaining a sceptical outlook, which provides a humorous counterbalance to the more serious characters. Riley’s role remains consistent from the first film, and his tech-savvy expertise proves invaluable to the team’s success.

Jon Voight reprises his role as Patrick Gates, Ben’s father, and his presence offers a stabilizing force within the group. His profound knowledge of family history and unwavering commitment to the treasure hunt add gravitas to the narrative. Voight’s performance is understated yet powerful, providing the essential emotional depth that enriches the film. The sequel also introduces a new character, Emily Appleton, portrayed by the illustrious Helen Mirren. As Ben’s mother and Patrick’s estranged wife, Mirren brings her formidable acting talents to the film. Although her character doesn’t occupy as much screen time as the core cast, her gravitas and the weight she adds to the family’s dynamics enhance the emotional undercurrent of the story.

A hallmark of the adventure genre is the classic trope of a race against time, and National Treasure 2 embraces this element wholeheartedly. The urgency and the impending sense of doom are ever-present, propelling the narrative forward and leaving the audience on the edge of their seats. The revelation of the Presidential Book of Secrets is a masterful stroke of storytelling creativity. It introduces the audience to a world of intrigue, suggesting that each U.S. president compiles a confidential book containing potentially scandalous information. The hunt for this mythical book injects a palpable urgency and raises the stakes to their zenith. The inclusion of the Resolute Desk serves as an intriguing twist in the plot. The actual desk is a symbol of goodwill between the U.S. and the U.K., but the film employs it as a storytelling device. A concealed compartment in the desk reveals another clue in the treasure hunt, adding a thrilling layer of excitement to the quest. The film’s climax transports us to the mythical city of Cibola, a place steeped in legend and gold. The final showdown is a tour de force, filled with tension as the characters confront their adversaries and race against time to uncover the truth. The grandeur of the setting, combined with the film’s mythological elements, results in a thrilling and unforgettable conclusion.

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets stands as a testament to the enduring power of discovery and the thrill of adventure. It encourages us to believe in the magic of the unknown and the joy of exploration, even in the face of the improbable. This film never claims to be a historical documentary. Instead, it invites us to suspend our disbelief and embark on a wild, exhilarating journey through time and space. It beckons us to unearth history’s secrets and reach for the stars, all with an infectious spirit of adventure. So, for those who yearn for a cinematic masterpiece that seamlessly combines history, mythology, and adventure, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets is the perfect choice. It’s a delightful escape into a world of secrets, puzzles, and daring escapades, all delivered with a rock-solid premise and a touch of silliness that makes it endlessly engaging.

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