Film Reviews

NATIONAL TREASURE

By • Nov 19th, 2004 •

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QUOTE: While clues abound in National Treasure, I was left clueless.

Isn’t Nicholas Cage a little long in the tooth to be running around treasure hunting with a young buddy? The screenwriters address this by having Cage’s character, Benjamin Franklin Gates, comment on his lack of current female involvement. But don’t worry, the other guy, Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), does not get the girl, gorgeous German actress Diane Kruger, who, like Denise Richards in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, plays an improbable character – National Archives Conservator of the Charters of Freedom, Dr. Abigail Chase.

In “The Tomb of God: The Body of Jesus and the Solution to a 2,000-Year-Old Mystery” by Richard Andrews and Paul Schellenberger, the authors have thoroughly researched a wild theory: The Knights Templar removed Christ’s body from Jerusalem and brought it to France. They left clues in paintings as to its location such as the tilted equilateral triangle. Did you ever notice that Sir Anthony Van Dyck’s painting of Lord George Stuart shows Stuart’s staff at 72 degrees to the horizontal? A line joining the tip of his forefinger to the lower end of the staff is at 75 degrees to the horizontal. It’s a clue to the tomb’s site. A French village parish priest discovered some encrypted parchments in the altar of a local church. The search began. There are many paintings of angels and saints pointing somewhere. This finger-pointing, and a noticeable degree of rotation, are clues.

(That’s me below kissing, supposedly, the empty Tomb of God in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.)

The Gates family has a long, but dismal history for hunting, unsuccessfully, a rumored treasure – The Knights Templar Treasure – much more fantastic than the actual bones of Christ.

The Masons, an off-shoot of the Knights Templar, hid a huge, mysterious treasure someplace in the U.S. Several Founding Fathers were Masons. That’s why there are lots of strange markings on our dollar bills. That floating eye is a Mason clue? Gates comes to believe that the back of the Declaration of Independence holds a map to The Treasure. He has teamed up with his wealthy patron Ian Howe (Sean Bean). When Howe announces he will steal the Declaration, Gates decides to steal it first to protect it.

Stealing the Declaration of Independence is a cakewalk. Gates knows his way around high value, priceless thievery. One assistant and millions of dollars worth of equipment – that is all it takes.

This is the type of movie that relies on the computer genius buddy to have every password, tool, and solution to all seemingly impregnable problems.

Gates knows minutia about the Founding Fathers that allows him to decode riddles and clues that exhaust the audience.

While Gates, Poole and tag-along Dr. Chase dope out the most outrageous clues hidden for 200 years, Howe and his thugs are right behind them. The clues are so convoluted that boredom sets in. If any of the clues actually made sense it might be fun for us to go along for the ride, but what do we know about weird markings on a church corresponding to the position of the Orion Galaxy in the year 612 B.C.?

Apparently, Nicholas Cage likes working with producer Jerry Bruckheimer. This is their fourth collaboration (THE ROCK, CON AIR, and GONE IN 60 SECONDS). Unlike these other films, NATIONAL TREASURE dumps the team spirit, leaving Cage and his lady friend to miraculously dope out far-flung trivia. And the resolution? I was rather insulted with the premise that our Founding Fathers were behind such massive looting and hid priceless treasures for hundreds of years depriving the common unwashed of such knowledge.


Cast:
Nicolas Cage – Ben Gates
Diane Kruger – Abigail Chase
Justin Bartha – Riley Poole
Sean Bean – Ian Howe
Jon Voight – Patrick Gates
Harvey Keitel – Sadusky

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