National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Family action movie

  • Written by The Wibberleys
  • Jon Turteltaub

Since I don’t review films professionally, I don’t have an editor forcing me to go to movies I have no desire to see. That’s my kids’ job.

And so, on opening night, I took my 12-year-old and one of her friends to see National Treasure: Book of Secrets. I’d rather go back to changing diapers.

On the way to the theater, I consoled myself with the thought that a mindless, big-budget action flick can only be so bad. Even if the story makes no sense, it would be fast-paced, have clever (if not quite witty) dialog, and brim with stunts and special effects.

I was wrong. NT: BoS loses on all counts. The pacing is glacial–allowing for plenty of time to contemplate the vastness of the story’s senselessness. I’m not sure if the dialog failed to be funny or didn’t even try. The action scenes were few, slow, and unimaginative.

And it wastes an impressive cast. We’ve learned not to depend on Nicolas Cage, talented as he is, since by now been in as many bad movies as good ones. And has Jon Voight done a good film since Midnight Cowboy made him a star? But you expect a film with Helen Mirren, Ed Harris, and Harvey Keitel to show some class. Actually Mirren shows a lot of class, managing to turn her part into a real person without any help from the screenplay. Harris, on the other hand, seems so uninterested in the part that he occasionally forgets the southern accent he uses elsewhere. Keitel just stands there and recites his lines.

The plot involves finding a treasure that will also prove that the hero Cage’s character’s great-great-grandfather wasn’t part of the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. This involves searching for intentionally-left clues in the world’s hardest to get to places (Buckingham Palace, the Oval Office), and talking a lot. Much of the talk involves history, and much of that is even accurate history. But it always gets twisted around in a weird way to match the plot.

The screenplay is officially credited to “The Wibberleys.” I understand why they didn’t want their first names on the film, but in their place, I wouldn’t have wanted my last name there, either.