National Treasure: The Book Of Secrets Review

Image for National Treasure: The Book Of Secrets

Patriotic treasure hunter Ben Gates (Cage) and his father Patrick (Voight) are outraged when a stranger (Harris) impugns their family honour. The only way to clear the Gates name is to find another fabulous treasure...


You know a film’s in deep trouble when, halfway through, you start wishing the intrepid treasure hunters would give up globetrotting and just sod off home. But such is the sequel to 2004’s puzzle-quest actioner. Disney has reunited the first film’s team - producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Jon Turteltaub, star Nicolas Cage, and Diane Kruger and Justin Bartha once again playing his hangers-on - hoping that lightning will once again strike.

Perhaps that was a mistake: it might have been more entertaining to switch new characters into the National Treasure brand, rather than put the returning cast through such stock sequel stratagems. But the big problem is the adventure itself. The early scenes are promising, but then the film goes all Temple Of Doom - minus the tasty touches of darkness.

This isn’t the year for a pretender to imitate Indy, and such an unwise turn only bogs the mid-film action down in hokum that Cage should recognise from script asides in The Rock a decade ago. Even the much-vaunted Book Of Secrets plays only a token role, moving things along to the next bit of mindless action (the finale sparks irresistible flashbacks to The Goonies, but with fewer thrills and weaker bad guys).

It’s easy to take against a film where Cage gatecrashes Buckingham Palace as if it were the starting level of a video game, before giving the English accent a Dick Van Dyke rogering. By the end, we sympathise with an acquired-on-the-way Helen Mirren, who looks like she knows this’ll be a slog but still puts on a chirpy British front. We can admire the Dame’s spirit, but isn’t the audience meant to be having more fun?

A turgid action sequel that loses sight of plot and characters in its humourless efforts to impress.