Whilst I enjoyed the first "National Treasure" and despite feeling like an Indiana Jones wannabe I found for the most it was quite entertaining. Sadly I can't say the same for "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" as it feels like that not only is it a blatant attempt to capitalize on the commercial success of the first movie but sadly it feels like it is just a poor rehash as well. There is very little which is new in this second movie and it follows pretty much the same formula as the first, from the same sort of adventures, the same bickering between characters and again a climax which lacks any imagination. The only thing which is really new is the introduction of Benjamin's mother played by Helen Mirren but then her character is sadly under used.
Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage - Ghost Rider) and his father, Patrick (Jon Voight - Transformers), take great pride in their family name and what their ancestors achieved for the United States. So when Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris - A Beautiful Mind) suddenly produces a page supposedly from the diary of John Wilkes Booth allegedly linking Ben's great-great grandfather to the assassination of Lincoln, Ben and Patrick set out on a path to clear their family's name. But Ben also believes that the page contains clues to the whereabouts of a treasure map leading to an ancient city of gold, and so the hunt is on. Geeky Riley Poole (Justin Bartha - Failure to Launch) and Ben's ex-girlfriend Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) join them in their search, which takes them from across the water to Europe.
As already mentioned the plot to "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" feels very much like a rehash of the original and sees Benjamin again go on a series of adventures to discover a lost treasure, and again part of the reason for this is to do with his family name. I would be lying if I didn't say that this lack of anything new is a huge disappointment and although the characters have moved on since the end of the first movie, the progression is quickly ignored to fall back into the same routine of the first. To be honest if this was the first movie it would have been reasonably good, but due to much copycat plot lines it is a seriously unimaginative follow up.
"National Treasure: Book of Secrets" is not helped by being too over the top in the adventure department. Where as the "National Treasure" pushed the boundaries of believability just enough to leave you questioning certain mysteries and legends, this one is far too outrageous. There is sadly so much to criticise when it comes to the adventure and many of the set ups are to be honest unintentionally laughable. Plus to be honest the actual adventures are not exciting, they don't get the adrenalin pumping and sadly lack enough action or tension to really get you on the edge of your seats.
What I find strange is that prior to "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" Nicolas Cage had never made a sequel but yet he chooses this lack lustre movie to be his first. For me it's a very strange choice and sadly his performance as Benjamin Gates in this second outing feels slightly stilted and lacking the energy which made his character so entertaining in the first movie. Not only is Cage back but so is Justin Bartha as side kick Riley, Diane Kruger as Abigail and Jon Voight as Gates senior but sadly there performances again feel under par which may be down to the unoriginal script.
As for new characters we have Helen Mirren making an appearance as Benjamin's mother Emily, but the character is so under developed the acting talents of Mirren are sadly underused. To be frank you could have put any actress in this role as the character has such little impact on the movie, although it really should have. Also in "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" is Ed Harris as Mitch Wilkinson and not to sound repetitive his performance and his character is disappointing. For a character which obviously has something to prove it is such a 2 dimensional character that at times it felt like it was based on a cartoon bad guy.
What this all boils down to is that "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" should have been so much more than just feeling like a poorly conceived rehash of the original. It lacks any serious attempts at progressing the story from the original instead relying on using the same formula and adventures which made the first so enjoyable. It lacks that punch which will make you sit up and pay attention and leaves you feeling slightly cheated. It's not a completely poor movie but as a sequel it fails to bring anything new to keep you wanting more.