National Treasure Throwback Movie Review

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There are a few things in my life that have interested me for as long as I can remember. Those few things are playing baseball, the Olympics, and history. History is the one that tends to pull me in the most. What has been done and what has been discovered is a rabbit hole that could go for a long time. Especially when it is family history.

National Treasure is not only a film about one family’s history but American history with a little bit of World history as well. The cast features Nicolas Cage, Harvey Keitel, Jon Voight, Diane Kruger, Sean Bean, and Justin Bartha.

The Story

National Treasure is, deep down, a heist film. Though the story itself is about the hunt for a treasure that was gathered by the Knights Templar and eventually hidden away by the Freemasons. The hunt itself is deeply ingrained in the family history of Nicolas Cage’s character Ben Gates.

Gate’s family takes the story back to the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll. Carroll, in the latter stage of his life, confides in Thomas Gates the first clue that would put his descendants on the hunt. Eventually, this leads Ben to hunt alongside Sean Bean’s Ian Howe. After an argument, these two start a race to find the treasure.

The Characters

Nicolas Cage’s portrayal of Benjamin Franklin Gates is not always constant. Sometimes it is serious other times it is campy. It makes it difficult to see how that character is meant to be. Ben’s father, Patrick Henry Gates, is portrayed by Jon Voight. Voight is an amazing actor and is able to show Patrick as a man who loves his family but hates that they are caught up with the Templar’s treasure. I did think it was interesting that not only Nicolas Cage and Jon Voight’s characters are named after famous founding fathers, but so is Patrick’s father. Who is played by Christopher Plummer and named John Adams Gates.

Diane Kruger’s Dr. Abigail Chase is meant to be a native German, but her accent is inconsistent at best and nonexistent at worst. I’m also not sure why she would have sensors tested if you were just going to replace them all anyway. Justin Bartha rounds out the main cast as Riley Poole. A computer genius that is meant to be the comic relief throughout the film, even if it is hit or miss. Sean Bean’s Ian Howe is compelling as a villain. All he wants is to have the Templar’s treasure. He has no care for how he gets it just as long as he gets it. The last character worth a mention is Harvey Keitel’s Agent Peter Sadusky, an FBI agent who is on the hunt for Ben and his team. Agent Sadusky also has my favorite line in the film “Someone has to go to prison, Ben.”

Final Thoughts

There are ups and downs in this film. While I enjoyed the character interactions, including how Ben and Ian’s teams compete to find the treasure. But also the little pieces of history thrown throughout the film.

There are also some small things that I had issues with. Things like no bullet holes in Ben’s van after it clearly gets hit and windows are broken.  And a 200+ year old pit that you would think would have been found while digging out the subway system had stairs built with modern nails instead of hand forged nails.

Overall, I’m able to look past some of the smaller things because I enjoy the character interaction and the history as they are presented. I think this is one of the few times that a Sean Bean character doesn’t die, and that amuses me. I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys American History and to families that are looking for a good night in.


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