out of Five
Running time: 124
Enjoyable, popcorn-flavoured sequel that takes the successful formula of the first film and doesn't change it at all, except for the welcome additions of Helen Mirren and Ed Harris.
What's it all about?
When a missing page from the diary of John Wilkes Booth implicates one of his ancestors in Lincoln's assassination, treasure hunter Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) sets out to prove his innocence. Reuniting with wise-cracking tech whizz Riley (Justin Bartha) and ex-girlfriend Abigail (Diane Kruger), Gates embarks on a quest that takes him to Paris, London and back to America, on the trail of a mysterious Book of Secrets that will clear his ancestor's name.
Unfortunately, the quest also requires some minor law-breaking, such as breaking into Buckingham Palace and kidnapping the US President (Bruce Greenwood). However, help is at hand, in the form of Ben's estranged parents, Patrick (Jon Voight) and Emily (Helen Mirren).
Justin Bartha is slightly more irritating this time round and Diane Kruger is as wooden as ever, but Cage is great fun, particularly when he's goofing around (e.g. doing a hilariously awful English accent). There's also strong support from Helen Mirren, who generates surprising chemistry with Jon Voight.
By far the oddest thing in the film is Cage's bizarre sideburn-free hairdo. Similarly, if you stop to think about the film at any point it starts to fall apart – for example, how likely is it that none of the leads would have a cameraphone?
Other than that, the film delivers exactly the same combination of rapidly-solved puzzles, wisecracking dialogue and action-packed set-pieces (right down to a finale in a steadily collapsing set) that made the first film such a success, so if it starts to feel like you've seen it before, it's probably because you have. At any rate, it works – the sequel was a smash hit in the States, so expect National Treasure 3 before long.
In short, National Treasure: Book of Secrets is a perfectly enjoyable sequel and a decent popcorn flick, provided you don't think about it too much afterwards.
National Treasure: Book of Secrets (PG)