Thursday Night Movie Club
National Treasure
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Release Date: November 19, 2004

Director: Jon Turteltaub
ACTORS:
Nicolas Cage
Diane Kruger
Justin Bartha
Sean Bean
Jon Voight
Harvey Keitel
Christopher Plummer
David Dayan Fisher
Stewart Finlay-McLennan
Oleg Taktarov
Stephen A. Pope
Annie Parisse
Mark Pellegrino
Armando Riesco
Erik King
CHARACTERS:
Ben Gates
Abigail Chase
Riley Poole
Ian Howe
Patrick Gates
Sadusky
John Adams Gates
Shaw
Powell
Shippen
Phil
Agent Dawes
Agent Johnson
Agent Hendricks
Agent Colfax
National Treasure movie poster National Treasure movie poster National Treasure movie poster
Action photo from National TreasureNational Treasure is just that, a treasure! O.K. So I started off my review with the most cliched statement known to man... what of it? It's not the greatest action film ever made, but it is thoroughly enjoying. I think director Jon Turteltaub and the producers went out of their way to ive this movie a PG rating so it can appeal to a wider audience.

This is a very good idea because of the reverence paid to American History throughout the film. The real question is: How well do you know your history?

Nicolas Cage stars as Benjamin Franklin Gates, the current male in a long line of Gates heirs who have a secret. Of course, since no of the previous Gates forefathers has come through in the clutch, the family is regarded as loonies. As a young teenager, Ben's grandfather tells him the legend of the Gates family history. A large treasure was collected by the Knights Templar. Fearing that this horde may fall into the hands of the British, the trove was secretly taken to the new world. Some of the founding fathers helped hide the treasure. But they left clues behind as to the location of the treasure. The last surviving signatory of the Declaration of Independence, raced to the White House to tell the President his secret. He died before completing his mission, but not before he passed it on to Ben Gate's Great, Great, 'Whatever,' Grandfather.

It has been the curse of the Gates family. For more than 200 years, the family has faced ridicule as they alone have tried to piece together the clues.

The modern-day Gates finds himself in the Arctic with a small team of believers. Gates has discovered the meaning of the first elusive clue, a clue that has been nagging at the family. "The secret lies with Charlotte." Charlotte turns out to be a ship. The team discovers the second clue in the cargo hold. This new clue points towards the back of a very famous historical document, The Declaration of Independence.

Gates realizes his dream has just come crashing down around him. How can he possibly inspect the back of a document that is as securely guarded as the Declaration? No one would possibly believe him that a treasure map has been concealed on the back. Gates' partner, Ian Howe (Sean Bean) has other plans. It quickly becomes evident that Howe is nothing more than a soldier of fortune. He is interested in finding the treasure, not any of the history surrounding the prize.

Nicholas Cage as Ben Gates and  Diane Kruger as Dr. Abigail in National TreasureWhen it becomes clear that Ian Howe is going to steal the Declaration, Gates has no choice but to go the federal authorities and warn them. As expected, his ludicrous tale falls on deaf ears. Gates really has no choice now but to steal the Declaration of Independence himself. As he justifies his action: he must steal the Declaration of Independence in order to protect it.

The ensuing robbery scene is wonderfully crafted. Ben Gates and his partner Riley Poole use subtlety and discretion while Howe storms the basement overpowering each obstacle with brute force. It's a bit of "Mission Impossible meets the A-Team".

Gates' theft is successful, otherwise there wouldn't be much of a movie. But he picked up something in the process that he was not expecting. A suspicious curator, Dr. Abigail Chase is suspicious of Gates' appearance at a fund raiser. To her horror, she discovers that the loony Gates has actually stolen one of the most important of historical documents. Chase is at first a hostage, but the persistent Gates and his quest begins to grow on her. When the Declaration reveals its first clue, she becomes entrenched in the mystery.

One of the funnier scenes comes when the team heads to Gates father's house for some documents. As they begin examining the back, there is a clash of opinions between, Gates, his father and Chase over how to handle the document. The trick is to discover whether there is a treasure map on the back of the Declaration without giving his father too much information. This scene and some other earlier ones started reminding me of the "MacGiver" television series.

The remainder of the movie is a wonderful cat-and-mouse story. Gates and his crew try to stay two steps ahead of rival Ian Howe and the FBI, who want to recover the stolen artifact before it is missed, or worse, before the press gets wind of the story.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Jon Turteltaub have crafted a tense thriller with plenty of action and suspense. Special credit must be given to the screen writers who penned the fictional mystery and wrapped it around famous documents and locations in U.S. history. This is the kind of story to make people run back and brush up on their American History and wonder if there are any hidden meanings behind some of those symbols.

Abigail, Ben and Riley Poole (Diane Kruger, Nicholas Cage and Justin Bartha)Nicolas Cage is an incredible actor. He can act in Academy Award winning roles just as easily as he slips into the role of action hero. He is so at ease in the role. Cage brings a level of sophistication, intelligence, and sincerity as the earnest Gates. He makes it easy to understand why Ian Howe, Riley Poole and Dr. Abigail Chase would believe in such a wacky story. A story that has absolutely no shred of evidence, only the word of an old man who passes the family legacy on to the succeeding generation.

Sean Bean is always good. He starts of as Gates' friend, but quickly turns into a heartless mercenary only interested in the bottom line, getting rich. Diane Kruger and Justin Bartha are engaging as the enthusiastic supporters of the crusade. National Treasure is a lot of fun. It is highly entertaining. The suspense will keep you glued to your seat and the mystery is such that I found myself trying to solve the riddles.