With nothing on my agenda after I got caught up with some work, I headed off to the Mayfair Mall for a showing of National Treasure starring Nicholas Cage. What I expected was a modern-day Indiana Jones type film, but what I got was something entirely different. It's almost as if the success of The DaVinci Code got Jerry Bruckheimer hot to do a conspiracy-genre film that ended up being a sloppy hodgepodge of American mythological elements poorly pasted into a predictable action-driven story.
Not to say that it sucked ass, but it sure could have been better.
Nicholas Cage is Benjamin Franklin Gates, the latest of a long line of Gates fortune hunters who are convinced there is a vast treasure hidden away by this country's founding fathers with the help of Free Masonry and the Templar Knights. Much to the dismay of his father (Jon Voit in a throwaway role), Gates tracks a critical piece of the treasure puzzle to Antarctica (an idea stolen from a Dirk Pitt book). Unfortunately, his need for financing leads to a partnership with Ian Howe (Sean Bean) who, predictably, turns out to be a bad guy. From that moment on, the race is on between Cage and Bean to find the treasure first... one to guard it for all humanity, and one to exploit it for personal gain.
I was sure that the "treasure" was going to be some lame-ass attempt at "idealism" ... perhaps a piece of paper with the words "America's true treasure is her freedom" or some such bullshit. Thankfully, they didn't take that route, but it doesn't matter. The lameness comes from the half-assed attempt to fit American-heritage-themed clues into a paint-by-the-numbers action flick. Strip away the nonsense with the Declaration of Independence, the Liberty Bell, etc. and there's nothing left but crap... tame chase scenes that culminate in an pathetic ending for the bad guys, and a predictably sappy ending for the "heroes."
Oh well. They did toss in a little eye candy (played by Diane Kruger), capable comic relief (played by Justin Bartha), and Harvey Keitel, which brings National Treasure up to a "5" (on a scale of 1 to 10). Not really good, not really bad, just predictably average. I hope that the actual adaptation of The DaVinci Code (starring Tom Hanks) fares better. At least it has a pretty good story to build on.