I really liked the first National Treasure movie. It was fun and full of excitement. Jumping around the east coast, finding clues in national monuments that led to another, and another. I didn’t think I was going to like it when I first saw it, but I was in love with it by the end. Then, they made a sequel.
What’s wrong with that you ask? Simple. The script. This thing plays like it was plotted by committee and written by Hollywood Hacks. Let’s go through the checklist:
- Hero and Heroine split up after happy ending in last movie? Check.
- Contrived plot device to get hero on journey? Check.
- Pointless car chase? Check.
- Contrived plot point to get police/FBI after hero? Check.
- Hero and Heroine work out their differences? Check.
- Stupid reason for villain’s motivation? Check. CHECK. CHECK!
- Hanging chad at the end for next sequel? And….check.
This movie took everything that was great about the first one, and threw it out the window! First, I hate this stupid plot device that Hollywood writers think they have to use at the start of a sequel. Break up the happy couple, so we can have the same “feel good feelings” from the first film. No. We don’t want to see the hero and heroine fall in love all over again. We want to see their relationship just as happy at the beginning as it was at the end of the first film. Otherwise, why get them together in the first place?! The journey of the film can still make their bond stronger, they just don’t need to start over!! But, this is a Disney film, where happy, functional families are illegal.
The film starts with is big set up with Lincoln’s assassination, Ben Gates’ great-great-grandfather, and the Knights of the Golden Circle. After the story is told, do we ever hear of the KGC again? No. What was the point? To disgrace the great-great-grandfather’s name so that Ben was forced to go on the treasure hunt? There was no other way to get him interested? It had to be publicized widely? Wilkinson couldn’t have just gone to Gates and asked for his help? Wouldn’t the possibility that the link between Thomas Gates and the conspirators be enough to motivate him? That’s just lazy writing.
Do I really need to explain the car chase?
The plot device with the President I like and don’t like. I liked having Gates take the President on a mini treasure hunt for the escape tunnel in Mount Vernon, and I do understand that it would probably necessitate having the FBI and Secret Service on his back, but couldn’t the President have cleared that all up? The discussion of the Book of Secrets didn’t have to come up in anyone’s explanation of what happened. And it was the FBI that jumped to conclusions in the first place. It didn’t have to be the government that spurred the race to find the treasure. Wouldn’t the KGC have been better? They would have made better villains in the long run I think.
Which brings me to Wilkinson’s motivation for wanting to get Gates on this hunt, while at the same time seeming to want to stop him. He wants to be remembered in history as somebody. That’s it. Doesn’t want the gold. No affiliation with the KGC, no grand schemes to expose/protect the treasure. He causes all kinds of damage in London chasing Gates, assaults Gate’s father, and kidnaps him mother, just so his name will be put into a history book somewhere. That’s really shallow if you ask me.
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets wasn’t a bad movie per se, but it just wasn’t as good as the first. More time taken on the writing and plot, and it could have been something really good. If they do make another sequel so that we can learn what was on page 47, I hope they actually put some effort into it, so that this movie is the exception and not the rule to the National Treasure franchise.