Combining urban legends, conspiracy theories, black market antiquity dealers, time travel and revisiting when not re-writing the past, this National Treasure sequel finds Nicolas Cage getting in touch with his inner superhero historian to embark on a new global adventure that presumably separates fact from fiction. With his character’s breakout fame after previously unraveling the mystery of the Templar Knights during his last outing, Cage’s DC itinerant, self-described ‘treasure protector’ Ben Gates feels ready for any challenge that may come his way, but is currently having an exceedingly bad day.
It seems that the secret long-lost pages ripped from the diary of Abraham Lincoln assassin, John Wilkes Booth and found on his corpse, are a secret no more. And egghead worry wart Gates is wringing his hands over the implication in those tattered pages, that his possibly bad news ancestor Thomas Gates, may very well have been a Wilkes Booth co-conspirator.
The scholarly party animal sleuth that he is, Gates lines up a bunch of brainy helpers for company. Including a couple of ex’s, among them his former honey archivist Abigail (Diane Kruger) who’s currently shacking up with a geeky White House curator, and his cranky ancient Native American linguist Mom (Helen Mirren), who has been estranged from veteran treasure hunter Dad (Jon Voight) for 32 years, and it’s got something to do with tequila and bad parenting. Harvey Keitel looks mostly bored while doing desk duty as the resident authority figure and voice of reason among all these stressed out adventurers. Meanwhile, Ed Harris as the film’s designated baddie, repeatedly runs interference on the intrepid egghead alliance, thereby extending the interminable running time of this goofy, annoyingly convoluted treasure hunt to over two hours.
In the end, all of this riddle mulling and puzzle head-scratching addsup to three Statues of Liberty, two US presidents – one of them assassinated and the other kidnapped, – and the British conspiring with the Confederacy in the American Civil War. Oh, and Aztecs burrowing under Mount Rushmore, don’t ask.
Though kids may go for this treachery lite, you know there’s a problem right away when the characters are far more excited about this adventure and its outcome, than you are. It’s also not very helpful to generate suspense, such as it is, when the lost and found treasure always winds up in the last place you happen to look. Too bad such a stellar combo cast had to get dumbed down for such inconsequential pandemonium.
Walt Disney Pictures
1 1/2 stars