This is a film that should actually make audiences happy because it's produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who's renowned for testosterone-laced epics that require about as much thought as idling in traffic. Yes, I said "happy," but not because the film is any good. "National Treasure" is such a blatant rip-off of the themes popularized by Dan Brown that folks will watch this film overjoyed that Bruckheimer hasn't gotten his greasy hands on the rights to "The Da Vinci Code" (Ron Howard gets to vanilla it down for us).
Starring as the Mona Lisa is none other than our very own Declaration of Independence, its mysteries begging to be discovered. Frankly, I've already forgotten just how Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) figures out there's a treasure map on the back of the Declaration, but it has something to do with a story told to him by his grandfather (Christopher Plummer) that involves Freemasons and a treasure so valuable that no person should ever find it lest he be corrupted by the wealth (or something like that).
One can be pretty sure that if there's a secret treasure buried somewhere and it's been hidden for thousands of years, Freemasons are somehow involved. For conspiracy theorists, ascribing responsibility to the Freemasons is like a national sport. Got a mystery you need to solve? Who killed Jimmy Hoffa? Who built the pyramids? Why, after more bad movies than Steven Seagal, is Ben Affleck still in the news? It's the Freemasons.
The film follows the standard adventure formula, regurgitated in recent films like "Around the World in 80 Days" and "The Mummy," which states that you take your hero and his funny pal then hook them up with some hot chick who decides to follow them against her better judgment. When Ben and Riley (Justin Bartha) ask to look at the Declaration, they're temporarily thwarted by its curator, Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger). So, they steal it. Abigail gets caught up in the adventure, apparently fulfilling her curatorial duties by declaring "be careful with that" whenever somebody tries to unroll the Declaration too fast.
Providing the requisite antagonism is Ian Howe (Sean Bean), a man with unlimited resources who just doesn't have enough money and must find the treasure so he can make Bill Gates his bitch. Wherever Ben, Riley and Abigail show up, hoping to find another clue, Ian shows up too. This leads to numerous episodes in a variety of locales punctuated by phrases like "There he is!" and "Run!"
The only treasure map you'll need in "National Treasure" is a map out of the theater.
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