Benjamin Gates (Nicholas Cage), Abigail (Diane Kruger) and Riley (Justin Bartha) are back for a second go round, with National Treasure: Book of Secrets. Joining them this time around is a returning Jon Voight as Ben’s father, Harvey Keitel as Sadusky, and new additions the amazing Helen Mirren as Ben’s mother, Bruce Greenwood as the President, and Ed Harris as the villain of the piece, Wilkinson.
In a story that feels bigger, and more fun than the first film (though the first film is fun) Ben and his pals get roped into another treasure hunt instigated by Wilkinson who uses a recovered diary page to implement the Gates name in a conspiracy that led to the murder of Lincoln.
Now, with everyone believing his family to be descended from traitors, Ben needs to track down proof that his ancestor was innocent, and that will be through recovering a lost treasure, once again only traceable through historical clues and trivia.
The world has been established, so this time around the characters get to have a lot more fun, as we, and they, know what to expect from the situations they find themselves in, and honestly, Cage seems to be having a grand ole time.
Adding Mirren, Greenwood and Harris to the cast is simply icing on the cake, as all of them are exemplary, Greenwood has a playful glint in his eye as he interacts with Cage’s Ben, while Harris brings a gravitas and threat, and Mirren is just brilliant in anything and everything she does.
We race from set piece to set piece and explore fun little tidbits of trivia wrapped up in an over-the-top story that is just a good romp. Which is all these films ever claimed to be. Turteltaub delivers a slick, entertaining popcorn film that is perfectly paced, features some fun performances, and again, maybe, just maybe, generate some interest in history.
The trio of Ben, Abigail and Riley are a wonderful combination, and each actor brings their character to life, well, Cage is Cage with a lot of historical trivia, but it’s still a damned lot of fun. It’s an escapade, and it revels in it, while also, hopefully, firing imaginations to look at history in a new light.
And now, we have a series coming on Disney+ and I am actually getting very eager to see what they do with the property.
But for now, if you have a lazy afternoon to spend on the couch, there are worse ways to spend it than in the company of Cage and friends as the romp across the globe looking for treasure.