Treasure hunting without a clue
NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS Directed by Jon Turteltaub. Starring Nicolas Cage, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel, Ed Harris, Diane Kruger, Helen Mirren, Bruce Greenwood, Justin Bartha PG cert, gen release, 124 min
HEY, Burt Sidekick, have you finished running up and down ladders for no good reason? Yes? Well, then what do you make of this riddle? These cryptic phrases in this obscure document – something called Variety, apparently – appear to indicate a connection between a particular 16th-century Tuscan polymath and massive currency movements in the continental US two years ago. “Da Vinci Pulls in Boffo Domestic Tally: see pg 12.”
What can it mean? Pass me those big dusty volumes, that magnifying glass and two hand grenades. Oh, and Get the helicopter started. We’re on our way to London, England.
When National Treasure was released in 2004, Da Vinci Code mania had not quite reached hysterical proportions. Indeed, it was perfectly possible to review that distinctly ropy film – in which Professor Nicholas Cage examined iconic American artefacts for pointers as to the location of lovely treasure – without making mention of Dan Brown’s idiotic anti-novel. (It was, however, harder to avoid comparisons with the notoriously cryptic 1970s game show 321.)
However, coming after the bewildering success of Ron Howard’s terrible film of The Da Vinci Code, National Treasure: Book of Secrets does end up looking like a mildly toxic byproduct of Brown Industries.
Book of Secrets finds Cage, now separated from fellow boffin Diane Kruger, attempting to clear the name of a late ancestor who has belatedly become implicated in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. After breaking into Buckingham Palace, chatting up uncharacteristically pally gendarmes in Paris, France and pouring over too many stacks of ambiguous runes, the prof once more finds his treasure antennae tingling. There is, he surmises, Native American gold beneath Mount Rushmore.
Book of Secrets is corny, clumsy and confusing, though much nippier and considerably less pretentious than that Da Vinci thing. If one must endure two hours of relentless idiocy, then there are worse people to spend that time with than (let’s leave Cage out of this) Harvey Keitel, Jon Voight and Helen Mirren.
Yes, you read that last name correctly. Why is that, after winning the Oscar for best actress, so many performers immediately step downmarket? Is it a Masonic plot? Perhaps the Vatican is involved. I smell a conspiracy.
Spelunkers go kerplunk: Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha and Nicolas Cage