Saturday, May 31, 2008

National Treasure: Book of Secrets


Compared its Da Vinci Code riding predecessor, National Treasure: Book of Secrets is more appropriate of being called ‘national treasure’, because this time the treasure searched for was entirely American. Allusions to American Revolutionary figures in part one I believe were merely a side story as the fabled (and more European) Templar Treasure and mysterious organizations such as the Freemasons were the true crowd drawers.

Treasure hunter Benjamin Gates (Nicholas Cage) this time solves a more personal history puzzle when his ancestor during the American Civil War Era was declared an accomplice in the Lincoln Assassination. A trail left from a ‘missing page’ of John Wilkes Booth’s diary leads him to Europe and back; from places hallowed by history like the Buckingham Palace and the Oval Office. And like part one he just broke in, took what he wanted; with great care to the historical artifact of course.

The entire crew is back for this second run around through American historical landmarks. Ben Gates will not be able to go anywhere with his tech wiz sidekick Riley Poole (Justin Bartha). If Indy breaks into ancient temples solving ancient riddles, for Gates he needs good old 20th century computer hacking. And most important Riley gives the film just the right amount of laughs, I like him perhaps better than most.

German hottie Diane Kruger is back as fellow history buff and girlfriend Abigail Chase. Patrick Gates (Jon Voight) and ‘newcomer’ Emily Appleton (Helen Mirren) complete the crew.

While many of the characters are said to learned persons in history, masters of dead and extinct languages; and many of the sites are real and more tangible than 3000 year old dead cities; make no mistake in swallowing the films’ historical allusions hook, line, and sinker. Don’t swallow especially on the ‘Book of Secrets’ which points to many well known American conspiracies.

But that is the bread and butter of National Treasure: Book of Secrets like its predecessor; it is a wild goose chase involving many conspiracies – or what I sometimes call as historical possibilities.

Bob Woodward of the Washington Post once wrote of history that no one may never get a precise “engineer’s drawing” of events. Memory, Perspective, and Self-Interest always plays a part. That is not to say I believe in what National Treasure says, but it is to say I enjoy at being pointed out what is possible.

I find the film fun and enjoyable even though it has given me nothing new from part one – that is besides the conspiracies and locations used. Ben Gates and crew are a fun group of guys they jell really well. Strange that even though I expect nothing new I look forward for an implied part 3.

Till then, I’ll hit the real history books.