Home | Reviews | Exclusive Writings | Great Links | Miscellaneous | FAQ | Contact Us

National Treasure /

Rated: PG

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Harvey Keitel, Sean Bean

Directed by: John Turtletaub

Produced by: Jerry Bruckheimer, John Turtletaub, Christina Steinberg
Written by:
Jim Kouf, Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley
Walt Disney Pictures


Nicolas Cage in Walt Disney Pictures' National Treasure
Justin Bartha , Nicolas Cage and Diane Kruger in Walt Disney Pictures' National Treasure
Sean Bean in Walt Disney Pictures' National Treasure

     National Treasure is a wildly fun movie, but not a good one. With a story that ridiculously references the historical founding of the United States as commonplace, in order to enrich its fictional plot, its main fault is that it delves too far into downright silliness. Yes, this does make for a solid entertainment value, but for any viewer of considerable intelligence, it will serve as a nagging burden. Characters swing from the doors of fast-moving trucks, trick each other to believing the ludicrous, and perform insurmountable physical tasks. I found all of this to be jolly, when watching it, but the sheer lackadaisicalness of National Treasure is bound to be forgotten by all.

     The film is a Jerry Bruckheimer production, and, like its predecessors, places heavy emphasis on long action sequences. Thankfully, Bruckheimer has found a competent director, named John Turtletaub, for this movie, who is the polar opposite of his usual partners, Michael Bay and Joel Schumacher. Turtletaub, at the very least, brings style to the clichés of the goofy, but enthralling action sequences, allowing them to stay interesting, while preposterous. In the hands of an entirely careless director, National Treasure could’ve been endlessly boring.

      Nicolas Cage plays Ben Gates, the youngest descendant in his family, whose members have dedicated their lives to finding a long, lost treasure that was buried in America’s past by the Founding Fathers. After he is betrayed by his greedy, long-time partner, Ian Howe (Sean Bean), in his quest to find the treasure, Ben finds himself in a huge dilemma. Both men discovered that the key to solving the mystery of the location the riches is located is on the back of the Declaration of Independence, and have to outsmart each other, in attempts to steal the highly protected document. Along the way, National Archivist Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger), who once believed that the treasure was not real, is forced into teaming up with Ben.

     In addition to the outrageous material in National Treasure, there is that of nonsensicality. How Ben is financially able to devote himself to finding this treasure is beyond me. Not only does he feed and house himself without a regular day-job, but also funds huge missions to excavate clues, in hopes of finding what he is looking for. Unclear background information, such as this, does not so much detract from the movie’s entertainment value so much as it makes it feel artificial. Perhaps my biggest gripe with National Treasure is that the characters, while sympathetic, do not feel real. Instead of personally responding to the material, I simply felt as though I was watching “Action Movie Z”, hot off of Hollywood’s assembly-line. There is, no doubt, some flair in National Treasure, but it often drowns in an abundance of average material.

     Even with National Treasure’s many shortcomings, however, I have decided to recommend it. As stupid as it is, make no mistake, I smiled through its entire duration (aside from during the strangely abominable first twenty minutes, that is). If I was solely grading on the basis of bottom-barrel entertainment-value and the attractiveness of the leading actress, National Treasure would merit four-buckets. Unfortunately for the filmmakers, the creativity of movies usually sways my opinion to a certain degree, and, in that area, this one is bogged down by its own ambitions. In attempts to create a fresh piece of fiction, writers Jim Kouf, Cormac Wibberley, and Marianne Wibberley invented themselves into a dark, deep hole. Their material is interesting, but because of its artistic and historical limitations, it is forced to embrace blank conventions that are often very constraining for it. Even so, and extremely hesitantly, I’ll take adventurous, family-friendly entertainment where I can get it.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (11.23.2004)

Back to Home
The Bucket Review's Rating Scale