Oh, good God.
Talk about formulaic.
Seriously, the acts are virtually the same, just with different little puzzles and similar parts. It’s like watching the first movie, but not. I certainly don’t mean that in a good way, quite frankly.
I can imagine the meeting of the minds on this one:
Jerry Bruckheimer: Okay, guys – what did we not cover in the last National Treasure movie?
Nicolas Cage: Ooh, the Civil War!
Crazy Jon Voight: That’s right! We didn’t talk about the Civil War at all!
Jerry Bruckheimer: Hmm, I like where this is going. Throw some buzzwords at me. Give me some ideas, gentlemen.
Nicolas Cage: Abraham Lincoln!
Crazy Jon Voight: John Wilkes Boothe!
Nicolas Cage: Mount Rushmore!
Crazy Jon Voight: Queen VICTORIA!
Nicolas Cage: PARIS!
Jerry Bruckheimer: I like all this, I like it. I think it’s going to be hot, gentlemen. Let’s just work all this into a script and see what we get.
Someone needs to have an intervention with Nic Cage. And by “intervention”, I mean, “stop him for his own good”, because heavens to Betsy, my instinctual reaction to someone’s face should not be to cower under the chair in terror and scream “Dear GOD, what is that THING?!” When I first saw Cage, my first reaction was some pseudo pearl-clutching followed by “…What’s wrong with his hair? No, really…what’s wrong with his hair?” He looks disgusting. I don’t just mean in the stinky, looks like he could use a shower or ten kind of department, although that’s part of it. He looks like he’s about to be slapped on an embalmer’s table somewhere after his liver’s exploded during a rough weekend in Vegas.
So, Ben Gates is back – and this time, he and Riley are in all sorts of trouble. Riley owes a ton of back taxes to the government after a shady accountant does him wrong; Ben has lost Abigail after a rocky relationship. Then a odd character comes forth, stating that he has the missing page of John Wilkes Boothe’s diary, implicating a family member of Ben’s in the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Of course, Ben and his father are determined to clear their family member’s name, but the shady character (Ed Harris) is using Ben to help him find a treasure. (Are you shocked yet? No? Really?!)
The problem is that National Treasure 2 is the exact same movie as the first. Literally you can pretty much track the second from the first, right down to the discoveries timed simultaneously, Riley offering up pertinent information at exactly the right time, hidden compartments, etc. It feels like an odd sense of déjà vu watching this one, because it feels like it’s the same movie, but it’s not.
You kind of have to mentally shake yourself a bit to remember that you didn’t accidentally take too much NyQuil or something when you weren’t looking.
Jon Voight is so remarkably atrocious in this. He’s playing the doddering old fool, but he’s Jon Voight, so he’s a little crazy to begin with. And add in the fact that it looks like someone gave him a strong sedative before sending him to film his parts and you have a slightly stunted, completely slow looking performance.
What in the hell was Helen Mirren doing in this movie? And could Ed Harris have phoned it in even more? Both of them look like they’re slightly dazed all the way through it, as if they’re trying to mentally communicate, “Bruckheimer hypnotized me and forced me to be in this movie; send help. For the love of God, send help”. Ed Harris isn’t very convincing as a bad guy, mainly because he doesn’t do that much bad stuff, and I think it’s practically a contract stipulation with Harris that if you write him in as a villain, he must have a “conscience” or whatever that thing’s called that gives you a moral compass – or at least a damn good reason for doing whatever the character’s doing.
Even at the end, the discovery of the “treasure” is so cheap – because you know from the start exactly how it’s going to happen because you watched the first movie already (probably). The first movie was a fun cheese-tastic kind of thrill ride, and this one falls flat, mainly because you already know what twists and turns are coming for you right around the bend.