A ChucksConnection Film Review


Justin Bartha wears black low cut Converse “Chuck Taylor” All Stars in the film.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

by Marcus Angulo

 

National Treasure: Book of Secrets still 1

This film expands the scope of the first and takes the series international.


There’s something to be said about a good adventure movie. Indiana Jones, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Magnificent Seven, and so many more offer viewers a rip roaring good time. However, the standalone adventure genre has gone by the wayside in recent years. Maybe that’s why the National Treasure films hold such a special place in the hearts of those who grew up with them. The memification of Nicholas Cage over the last decade helps, but something about the puzzle cracking adventures of historian Benjamin Gates lends to the staying power of these films, and is why fans are still wondering where the long rumored National Treasure 3 will be released. The second of the films, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, was released in 2007, and stars Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel, Ed Harris, Bruce Greenwood, and Helen Mirren. The film takes place after the first film, and follows the trio of Ben, Riley, and Abigail as they try to find another lost treasure.


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Covert Riley opts for the dark, low key black and grey chucks for their stealth capabilities.


The film begins with a flashback to April 14, 1865, five days after the end of the American Civil War. John Wilkes Booth and Michael O’Laughlen enter a tavern in Washington, D.C., and approach Thomas Gates to decode a message in Booth’s diary. Thomas recognizes the message as a Playfair cipher and he begins to translate it. Booth soon leaves for Ford’s Theatre to assassinate US President Abraham Lincoln, while Thomas realizes the men are Confederate sympathizers. He is shot by the sympathizers, but not before burning part of the cipher. Fast forward 142 years later (three years after the events of the first film) Ben Gates (Cage) delivers a lecture on the story at a Civilian Heroes conference.


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Dogs. Why did it have to be dogs?


During the lecture, a black market antiquities dealer named Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) shows one of the missing pages of the Booth diary, with Thomas Gates’s name written on it. This is enough to convince everyone that Thomas was a Confederate sympathizer and the grand architect of the Lincoln assassination. Ben, heartbroken and in denial, sets out to prove Thomas’ innocence by finding the possible treasure that Thomas was searching for with the cipher. He reunites with Riley (Bartha) and Abigail (Kruger). Their hunt for the treasure will see them cross international waters to France and London, and meet up with Ben’s mother Dr. Emily Appleton-Gates (Mirren). With so many changing clues and directions to go, where the group ends up surprises them all, but not as much as what they find.


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Riley always comes prepared to get the job done.

 

This film expands on the scope of the first installment by going international, and upping the amount of historical locations traveled to. It still has that sense of wonder one gets when hearing that there could be a secret map hidden somewhere on a historical artifact, but the clues aren’t as interesting in this movie as they were in the first. The cast is still great, and the chemistry between Cage, Kruger, and Bartha is the heart of this film. Cage is his usual manic yet magnetic self, and Bartha nails the deadpan and downtrodden humor of reluctant sidekick Riley. While Book of Secrets might not have the same level of spark as the first National Treasure, it is still a perfectly easy watch and will scratch that adventure itch you have when looking for your next movie night feature.

 

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Who wouldn’t love to go hiking through the Black Hills in a pair of chucks?


Best Chucks Scene


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Riley enters the lost cave in his trusty pair of chucks.


The best chucks scene in the film is the extended sequence at the film’s climax, which sees our gang of treasure hunters zero in on the lost city of gold, Cibola. Everyone has worn the typical hiking gear one would expect to wear while trekking through the Black Hills. That is, everyone except Riley who instead opts to wear the same Chuck Taylors he’s worn throughout both films. As they make their way through the booby trap laden caves to unfathomable riches, including a large golden balancing platform, Riley is going through it all in black and white chucks. Riley’s an adventurer, but he stays true to himself so he adventures in chucks.


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Riley and Abigail dive for the curb after escaping from traffic.


National Treasure. (2004) Nicholas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Helen Mirren, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel, Ed Harris.
Directed by Jon Turteltaub. Categories: Action/Adventure.
ChucksConnection Rating: 2.5 chucks rating MPAA Rating: PG

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