Cage Gives Chase to Kruger Ran & Treasure
Some days I wake up yearning for a movie which will challenge the way I think, whilst on others I just want a movie which will simply entertain the pants off of me. Nicolas Cage's "National Treasure" definitely falls into the second category as it discards any attempts to be thought provoking but takes you on a well polished rollercoaster ride of action and adventure which leaves you thirsty for more.
Ever since he was a young boy and his grandfather enthralled him with tales of a vast treasure which over the years has grown bigger and bigger, Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage - Matchstick Men) has been on a mission to discover the mythical treasure. But having discovered the latest clue to the treasures whereabouts, which points to one of America's most important documents, the Declaration of Independence, Gates is forced into taking drastic action and steals the historic document before his corrupt partner; Ian Howe (Sean Bean - When Saturday Comes) gets his hands on it. With both Howe and the FBI, lead by detective Sadusky (Harvey Keitel - Shadows in the Sun), on his trail, Gates with the aid of his assistant Riley (Justin Bartha - The Hangover) and the beautiful Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) must unravel the clues to discover the location of the treasure before it is too late.
Although not mentally challenging, "National Treasure" certainly has an entertaining plot which holds your attention even though it pushes the boundaries of feasibility. The two main aspects of the movie revolve around the hunt for the treasure and then the theft of the Declaration of Independence which results in a crime/ heist aspect to the movie. To be honest "National Treasure" does very little to reinvent any of these storylines sticking to good old traditional plot aspects like a police chase, the good guy - bad guy element and a very stereotypical romance aspect. But the storyline was never going to be the focus of the movie, especially when you realise that this is a Jerry 'action supremo' Bruckheimer production. Saying that, "National Treasure" does have a certain amount of ingenuity about it, especially in the way it ties in the clues to many aspects of American history giving it a slight plausibility about it.
But as I have already said, "National Treasure" is not about a thought provoking storyline but about a roller coaster ride of thrills and spills. As we have come to expect with Bruckheimer, no expense is spared and we are treated to a visual delight of special effects and action which from the minute the movie starts right up until the climax never ceases to drop in its intensity. Although thoroughly enjoyable it does feel like you have seen it all before in a number of other movies, especially from the Bruckheimer back catalogue which includes "The Rock", "Con Air" and "Gone in 60 Seconds" which all happen to be collaborations with actor Nicolas Cage. But even if it does feel a bit predictable, in both plot and action, it does not detract from the overall enjoyment of the movie and it definitely achieves what it sets out to do.
One of the main reasons "National Treasure" is so enjoyable is the casting of Nicolas Cage as Benjamin Gates, as he is at his exuberant best in these sorts of action movies. What is also quite remarkable is the fact that the character of Gates is not overly detailed; yes he is the good guy and his intentions for discovering the treasure is not about self profiting but other than that there is very little to him. But it is the charismatic performance from Cage which brings him to life on the screen and makes him so enjoyable.
Of course having a nice guy in a movie means you also have to have a bad guy, and in the case of "National Treasure" this takes the form of Ian Howe played by Sean Bean. Again this is not the most detailed of characters, and one which is stereotypical in the fact that he is bad because he acts using brawn rather than brains, it is still one which is enjoyable. Sean Bean actually did a remarkable job to give this quite flat character some life and in doing so was not over shadowed by Cage, which is a remarkable feat in itself.
Being a somewhat stereotypical movie it is no surprise that we have an inclusion of a love interest, in the case of "National Treasure" it is in the form of Abigail Chase, played by Diane Kruger. Now although Chase has a purpose in the film, that being she is in charge of the Declaration of Independence, her inclusion in the actual chase element of the film seems a little too contrived and starts to have the single function of looking good. With this in mind, I have to applaud actress Diane Kruger for making the most of her role and making her a little bit more interesting than your usual love interests in these sorts of movies. Finishing off the main cast is Justin Bartha as Gates's sidekick Riley Poole. I have to admit that prior to "National Treasure" I had never heard of Bartha but he did a marvellous job in this role, playing it with an element of self depreciating dead pan humour, which works brilliantly against the exuberance of Cage. What is also noticeable is the number of famous names who appear in the film in a selection of minor roles, with enjoyable performances coming from Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel and Christopher Plummer.
"National Treasure" is directed by Jon Turtletaub who has done a brilliant job of not only pulling out some enjoyable performances from the films stars but in creating a movie which is one of the best action movies to receive a PG certificate in many years. Where many action movies dwell on gore and violence, these elements are used in a sympathetic manner within "National Treasure" making the film much more fun.
What this all boils down to is that despite the lack of a reasonable plot, I like "National Treasure" purely for the entertainment factor. It makes no attempt to disguise the fact that this film is purely about action and special effects and in doing so makes it a very good fun film. Add into the scenario Nicolas Cage, who happens to be one of my favourite actors, and you have a very good film. What is also nice is that even though it has a PG certificate it has something for the much older audience.