My Favorite Movies #30 – National Treasure

National Treasure - PosterNational Treasure

2004

Directed by Jon Turteltaub

Quick synopsis… Modern treasure hunters, led by archaeologist Ben Gates, search for a chest of riches rumored to have been stashed away by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin during the Revolutionary War.

  • Honestly, I think this was the Indiana Jones movie we deserved.
  • And then we got Kingdom of the Crystal Skull a few years later.
  • There’s talk of them finally doing a third film in this franchise.
  • I hope it’s not just talk.
  • I mean, okay, Book of Secrets wasn’t the greatest.
  • But it got the job done.
  • And there’s that page from the titular book that still needs to be explained.
  • Anyway, let’s discuss the original, shall we?
  • The film’s premise is set up by Ben Gates’ (Nicholas Cage) grandfather, played by Christopher Plummer.
  • We’re informed of a treasure that’s been fought over for centuries that has grown beyond imagining, but no one knows what’s happened to it.
  • It’s thought that the Knights Templar discovered it during the Crusades and that they evolved into the Freemasons, bringing the treasure to the New World.
  • As America was formed, the Freemasons left clues to the location of the treasure, but those clues have been lost over the years.
  • The last clue was given to Ben’s ancestor by the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • So the Gates family legacy has been one of failure as they, in over a century, have never been able to locate the treasure…
  • Or even discover what “The secret lies with Charlotte” meant.
  • Until Ben comes along.
  • He convinces Ian Howe (Sean Bean) to fund an expedition leading to finally discovering the location of the Charlotte, a ship buried under the arctic ice.
  • This leads to the discovery of another clue in the form of a meerschaum pipe, pointing to the likelihood that there is an invisible treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Crazy, right?
  • Gates is seemingly okay with letting the treasure hunt end there, seeing as how they can’t gain access to the Declaration to find out if there actually is an invisible treasure map on the back.
  • But Ian is ready to pull the trigger on stealing the Declaration, even at the risk of destroying the thing.
  • And so, of course, Gates (and his good friend Riley) try to warn the good people at the FBI, Homeland Security, and the National Archives, that this heist is gonna go down.
  • When no one believes them, Ben decides that he needs to steal the Declaration before Ian does so that Ian can’t destroy it with improper techniques trying to discover the invisible map.
  • And he pulls it off, with the only hitch being Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger), who tries to stop Ben and Riley, but winds up briefly abducted by Ian and his crew.
  • To save Abigail, Ben gives Ian a souvenir copy of the Declaration from the gift shop, which Ian doesn’t discover until he’s already given up his leverage.
  • The good guys head to Ben’s father’s house, knowing they can’t return to Ben’s place, where they had a clean space set up to properly investigate the document because Ben had to use his credit card to purchase the souvenir copy, meaning the FBI will be waiting for them at his home.
  • Patrick Gates (Jon Voight) is bitter and disappointed in his family’s historical legacy, so when his son shows up with another potential clue for this seemingly impossible to find treasure, he’s less than agreeable.
  • Even more so when he discovers that the document they’re examining is the Declaration of Independence.
  • But, at this point, Dr. Chase is curious enough to help out.
  • It’s a good thing Patrick just happened to have a bunch of lemons.
  • Because the back of the Declaration reveals a cipher written in invisible ink, which refers to the Silence Dogood letters written by Benjamin Franklin.
  • This leads them to Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Freemasons have hidden a special pair of spectacles that make it possible to read what is invisible on the back of the Declaration.
  • This leads them to New York City and the treasure’s final resting place.
  • It really is a spectacular adventure and it’s a lot of fun how they utilized so much of America’s history to build this treasure hunt.
  • Oh, and Sean Bean’s character doesn’t die this time around for a change.
  • He just gets sent to prison for something he didn’t do!
  • I’m hoping he gets to return for the third one, if it ever gets made.
  • Because how great would it be if Ian returned to compete for whatever Ben’s next treasure hunt is, but this time he’s holding a grudge?
  • The script practically writes itself!

Next week we’re gonna get musical. And if you know the songs, you are more than welcome to sing along. Because I’m gonna be singing. You should, too.

2 thoughts on “My Favorite Movies #30 – National Treasure

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