What can I say about Nicolas Cage? I'd say I'm a pretty big fan of the work I've seen. Like Tom Cruise and and Hanks, I haven't seen the entire catalog of material because I'm sure some duds exist. Rather, I pick and choose what I want to watch and do so wisely because I'm a big fan of all three. A classic Cruise running scene or a Cage flip-out can brighten my day no matter how awful it's been. As such, there's a few movies from each actor that I'd consider mainstays in the old stable. One such film that I maybe feel doesn't get enough credit would be National Treasure. It's coming up on fifteen years old and I'd say it's a classic like how I say Indiana Jones is. I reference the latter specifically because both movie franchises share similarities. Aside from them being awesome, the treasure-hunting vibe is strong with both.I'm not talking about character growth or some bullshit "treasure" either. I'm talking about hidden passages, puzzle solving, room full of gold treasure! I mean, movies of this genre should be entertaining and by the end of it, you should be wondering why you've wasted your life with responsibility like family and bills instead of getting a whip and hunting down some ancient relics!
National Treasure has a pretty outlandish premise but that's what makes these movies so damned good after all. Basically, there's a treasure that's been collected over the centuries and has been both protected and hidden by various groups throughout the years. Knights Templar and later Freemasons felt the treasure was too much for any one person to wield and instead opted to not let anyone have it at all. Enter the family Gates. One of the last renowned Freemasons is dying and needs to pass on the clues to where the treasure is but he doesn't get to the next person in time! Intrigue! Intensity in ten cities! With his last breath, the secret is passed onto a carriage driver. The secret is then passed through the generations and we're introduced to the latest protector of the treasure, Ben Gates. Much to the detriment of his father, Ben takes in the treasure story hook, line, and sinker. Warnings of the family legacy being tarnished be damned! Family fortune squandered looking for the treasure? Hogwash! Fast forward to present day and the treasure is just one clue away! Or it's several clues away and Ben's father was right! Only time will tell!
In a pretty cool introductory scene, we meet adult Ben and his team of compatriots. Most notably, we meet Riley, the stereotypical tech wiz nerd guy. Also, we meet Ian, the antagonist. Of course he backstabs Ben, with his altruism and firm sense of right and wrong. There's money to be made! Fame to be earned! Ain't no time for dawdling, goddamnit! We get more clues about the treasure as is expected. It's revealed that there's a treasure map on the back of the Declaration Of Independence! Like, what are the damned chances?! As is commented, hiding a map on such a document would ensure it would survive the ages. So, way to go Freemasons and Knights Templar! Throw in the obligatory love interest for Ben, who just happens to be a historian as well, and we've got ourselves a movie! Oh, AbigailChase. Of course you see stealing the Declaration as a way to prevent it from being stolen as noble and chivalrous. Swoon alert!
There's some more clues, more puzzles to solve. Riley is constantly emasculated by the sheer knowledge both Ben and Abigail possess. A watch worth multiple thousands of dollars is traded for a hundred dollar bill on a whim! This is cinematic genius, folks. Look, National Treasure would never win any awards. It's pretty cookie cutter at its base but I'm totally okay with that because I eat shit like this up. A chase against time and a decent antagonist usually spells success and this is a prime example of that. Theres a bit of history along the way (both real and fabricated for storytelling purposes) which is always fun as well. Entertainment AND learning? Yes, please! National Treasure is a fun film that happens to be family-friendly as well. It accomplishes what it set out to do without gratuitous violence or sex, so that's pretty unique these days (ahem, Deadpool...). I hope I didn't spoil any major plot points as all I really wanted to do was gush for a moment of what has to be one of my feel-good favourite movies. As usual with most of my reviews, I recommend this one highly. It's good enough for me to watch probably twice a year and I keep my fingers crossed for another in the series!