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National Treasure
2004 - PG - 140 Mins.
Director: John Turtletaub
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Written By: Jim Kouf, Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Justin Bartha, Diane Kruger, Sean Bean, Jon Voight
Review by: Joe Rickey
Official Site:
Ever since he was a child, Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) has heard the story of a great treasure. This treasure was supposedly left behind by America's founding fathers, a mystery that also involves the legendary Knights Templar and an invisible map on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Gates has made it his life's work to find the treasure, even after seeing how his father (Jon Voight) wasted away a life looking for it, losing many a wife over his obsession. In fact, Gates' father tells him to give up the hunt, believing there isn't actually a treasure of any kind, "There will always be another clue", he says.

Well, all of this does not deter Benjamin and his partner Riley (Justin Bartha) from planning a daring heist during a gala to procure the Declaration of Independence, getting a National Archives' employee (Diane Kruger) involved as well. Meanwhile, a former partner of theirs (Sean Bean) is also planning to steal the document on the same night. The race, as they say, is on.

Despite being wholly improbable, even for a heist film, 'National Treasure' is one fun ride, the second such film in as many weeks ('After the Sunset' being the other) to revel in the far-fetched nature of its premise. The film acknowledges on more than one occasion that the whole conceit of stealing one of the most highly-guarded documents in the world is not remotely possible, that the filmmakers and actors are just having a great deal of fun and the viewer is invited to join in the fray.

Director John Turtletaub ('Instinct') fashions the film at a breakneck pace as the film quickly becomes a globetrotting adventure not unlike a more high-tech version of an 'Indiana Jones' films. The rapid pace of the proceedings also functions to keep the viewer from realizing that what they are watching does not always make complete sense, but it doesn't matter because everyone is having too much fun. It also must be mentioned that the screenplay by a trifecta of Hollywood veterans is not opposed to utilizing dashes of humor here as an adept way of reaffirming that the film is not taking itself seriously.

The cast adds to the fun with solid performances across the board. In the lead role, Nicolas Cage gives yet another assured performance playing a man who does not want to realize that he might have wasted his life searching for something that doesn't exist. As his likable computer geek partner/friend Justin Bartha ('Gigli') also does his part to keep the mood light, functioning as one can probably guess as the film's central source of comic relief. As the put-upon employee at the National Archives, Diane Kruger ('Troy', 'Wicker Park') is also quite good, showing more skill here than anyone saw from her two prior performances that reeked of blandness. And, as the villain of the film, Sean Bean ('Troy' as well) is a natural, appearing at times like he could play the role in his sleep.

Loads of fun that never lets up, 'National Treasure' is not to be missed.
Movie Guru Rating
An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant.
  4.5 out of 5 stars

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