National Treasure

"Bad"

National Treasure Review


Let's skip right over the fact that "National Treasure" may well have the most asinine plot in the history of cinema. But for the record, it's an action-adventure yarn from "dumb it down and blow things up" producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and it's about an invisible map on the back of the Declaration of Independence leading to a vast, multi-billion-dollar treasure buried by the Founding Fathers. So I think the "you've got to be kidding" factor pretty much speaks for itself.

Instead let's marvel at how a trio of hack writers (collectively responsible for "Snow Dogs," "The 6th Day" and "I-Spy"), coupled with a director whose best work is mediocre and pedestrian (Jon Turteltaub of "Phenomenon" and "Instinct"), can take this dumb idea and make it even worse in every conceivable way.

First they contrived to have a series of barely coherent clues to the treasure's location appear in laughably cryptic little poems and in the design of the $1 and $100 bills. Then they concocted an eccentric, nerdy-cool, disgraced-historian lead character named Benjamin Franklin Gates, who arbitrarily solves each esoteric riddle within three minutes of discovering it. These lead him closer and closer to digging up the treasure -- even though he says all he wants to do is protect it. (If it's been safely hidden for centuries, why not leave well enough alone?)

Turteltaub's next order of business was bad casting. Nicholas Cage, having misplaced his dignity (again), plays Gates by schlepping through roughly the same quirky action-hero mannerisms as he did in Bruckheimer's 1996 explosion-fest "The Rock." Cage is joined by Justin Bartha (last seen in "Gigli," doing a community theater rendition of Dustin Hoffman's "Rain Man" character), who plays the inevitable Snarky Sidekick, and by Diane Kruger (the utterly forgettable Helen of last summer's "Troy") as a skeptical National Archives historian in a low-cut dress. She gets dragged along on Gates' adventure so he has someone to grab and kiss before acts of derring-do.

Throw in an all-purpose villain (Sean Bean, a veteran of such roles), add a few implausible action set pieces (to "protect" the Declaration from the baddies, Gates steals it himself in an absurdly simple high-tech break-in), and mix in a paint-by-numbers chase scene (with Washington, D.C. monuments visible in every single background regardless of location). Pepper the whole mess with witless one-liners, drag it out to 125 minutes, and -- abracadabra! -- another harebrained blockbuster.

But "National Treasure" is even more inane than most prefabricated products from the Bruckheimer assembly line because if its characters had any sense, the movie would be over after 30 minutes. As soon as Kruger realizes the map on the stolen Declaration's backside is for real -- and therefore Gates is telling the truth -- there's no reason not to return the parchment, help her department solve the mystery, and have the baddies rounded up. The longer these two follow increasingly ridiculous clues while running from both Bean and the FBI, the worse the movie gets.

Few action flicks bother being crafty and creative enough to genuinely earn the suspension of disbelief required to enjoy them, but this one seems to go out of its way to be idiotic -- so much so that it can't even answer the most basic questions about its plot.

How did the cash-strapped American Revolutionaries got their hands on all this loot (in gold and ancient artifacts) in the first place? Why (and how) would they build an airplane-hanger-sized temple six stories underground to store it instead of a) putting it in museums, or b) selling it to fund their rebellion against the British?

If you're smart enough to wonder such things (clearly the filmmakers weren't), you're far too smart to waste two-plus hours watching "National Treasure."



National Treasure

Facts and Figures

Run time: 131 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th November 2004

Box Office USA: $173.0M

Box Office Worldwide: $347.5M

Budget: $1000 thousand

Distributed by: Buena Vista

Production compaines: Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Junction Entertainment, Saturn Films, Walt Disney

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 44%
Fresh: 75 Rotten: 94

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Benjamin Franklin Gates, as Abigail Chase, as Ian Howe, as Patrick Henry Gates, as Sadusky, as Riley Poole, as John Adams Gates, as Shaw, as Thomas Gates, as Powell, as Shippen, Stephen A. Pope as Phil, as Agent Dawes, as Agent Johnson, as Agent Hendricks, as Agent Colfax, as Butcher Lady, Alexandra Balahoutis as Clothing Store Clerk, Dior Raye as Gift Store Clerk, Antony Alda as Guard Ferguson, Terrence Currier as Charles Carroll, John Travis (VII) as Guard Mike

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.