Diego's Review of National Treasure
Continuing Cageathon 2013, we have National Treasure. This is my fifth review written on this movie, as I tend to go back and forth on it, but I seem to have gravitated back to liking it. Rarely do I give fresh reviews to supposedly 'rotten' movies, but frankly... there's nothing not to like here. With Nic Cage as an eccentric treasure hunter, Justin Bartha as his wisecracking, tech-savvy sidekick, and Sean Bean as the villain, this movie is a wild ride. It's got insane plot twists, ludicrous loose ends that pile up, and an overall feel of good fun that you can't help but be drawn in by. In other words... it's a Nicolas Cage movie.
National Treasure stars Cage as Benjamin Franklin Gates, a young man whose entire family for the past 200 years has been searching for the biggest treasure trove in the history of the world. Immediately, this premise is silly as fuck-- this supposed treasure conveniently has artifacts from every major civilization of all time, from Egypt to China. Sure, it's silly, but who gives a fuck? Anyway, Cage is out to find a ship called the Charlotte, which contains the next clue to finding the treasure. After a short and scientifically ridiculous explanation by Bartha, they stumble across the wreckage of the ship in the middle of an Arctic ice sheet-- WOW! What a happy coincidence! Also, I'd like to point out the stupid cliche that the VERY FIRST THING Cage uncovered was the bell, which had the ship's name on it. Gee, this movie is just FULL of coincidences!
Cage and Bean have a falling out in the ship, leading these two longtime partners in the hunt for the treasure to turn on each other at a moment's notice. Bean then tries to blow him up. Wow, major uncool. Only Cage and Riley are left on the team now, as Bean has branched off. So now they can go their separate ways, right? WRONG. Because the next clue is in invisible ink... AND WRITTEN ON THE BACK OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. So now it's time for that classic line... "I'm going to steal the Declaration of Independence." Which Cage does. And quite easily, I might add. Still, I loved the heist scene, which took the best parts from Ocean's Eleven and incorporated them into a truly suspenseful robbery. It's kind of epic.
My main problem with this movie is... *clasps hands*... the dialogue. Sometimes it's quotable, but most of the time, it's FUCKING RETARDED. There's a scene in which Bartha and Cage are in the Library of Congress, and Bartha begins the scene by saying "I've brought you here to the Library of Congress." Nobody talks like that. Cage already knows where he is; you just FUCKING brought him there, as you so aptly described it. So why restate what is obvious for Cage when there's no one else there? Oh, that's right-- the audience needs to know. There's a lot of wordy exposition like this in National Treasure, but fortunately, it's also quotable. A lot is owed to Bartha here, as he coins such great lines as "Your dad's got a sweet ride," and "What's the preservation room for? Delicious jams and jellies?" Canned? Sure. Forced? Fuck yes. Funny? You'd better believe it.
After the Declaration heist, the two pick up Abagail Chase (Diane Kruger), a passionate historian who helps the two of them find the next clue to the treasure-- in Independence Hall. Here's another thing I love about this movie: The respect for American history. Sure, none of the stuff in National Treasure is remotely possible. As much as I'd like for there to be an invisible treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence, it's been examined too many times for people to miss that. But the way this movie treats the REAL history it presents is reverent and chill-inducing. Right down to the password for a door code (valley forge), the movie takes everything about history that I (and hopefully others) love and makes it VERY entertaining. For instance-- when Cage brings the Declaration into Independence Hall, he pauses, takes in a breath, and says "The last time this was in this room... it was being signed." Again-- a very corny line that actually works, thanks to Cage's delivery and the subject matter at hand. It presents history nerds in very respectful yet humorous ways ("It must have taken you a long time to hunt down all that history"), and that wins it some serious points from me. Also, I'd like to say that the aircraft carrier that Cage jumps off was captained by my great-grandpa. So that's a little more nostalgia and manipulation that this movie throws at me.
So in the end, Cage defeats Bean using reverse psychology after finding a cave below Wall Street. Interestingly enough, this cave was never disturbed during the digging of subway tunnels, water mains, or gas pipes. But fuck logic. Cage finds the treasure in a truly emotional scene, and it's almost cathartic to watch him discover the thing he has spent his whole life searching for. Of course, this powerful scene is undercut (perfectly) by Bartha's character. But again, that's what makes this movie so God damn enjoyable-- its melding of strong performances, legitimately heartwarming moments, and witty one-liners. And even though Bartha is a welcome comic relief, his best asset is his technological genius. It's incredibly fun to watch a guy, armed with nothing more than some fancy gadgets, infiltrate some of the most highly-guarded places on Earth. He's not a particularly complex character, but he's certainly an entertaining one. Cage, meanwhile, compensates with a performance that tones down his usual insanity JUST enough to make it realistic. He's a little nutty, very eccentric, but not quite bat-fucking-shit insane like in Deadfall or Vampire's Kiss. He's got an intriguing character, so who cares if he delivers his lines blandly sometimes? He's Nic Cage! It's all part of his greater plan! I was a little disappointed when Sean Bean didn't die, but hey, I guess he can't do it in every movie.
Final Score for National Treasure: 7/10 stars. Nostalgia plays a big part here, as I've been watching this movie all my life since I was a kid. But I refuse to believe that that's the only reason why I like it so much. It's creative and fun, and it's an absolute blast to watch Nic Cage parkour it up, jumping over rooftops to evade bad guys. Also, as one last note-- the music in this movie is fantastic. Even if you don't like the movie, you have to admit that it features one of the most powerful and epic musical scores of all time. Just listening to it off of YouTube fully conveys the adventurous nature of this great movie. It's silly, ridiculous, and at times flat-out DUMB. But I promise you, you will have a great time.