Movie Review

National Treasure

The clues are right in front of your eyes.
National Treasure Movie Poster

US Release Date: 11-19-2004

Directed by: Jon Turteltaub


  • Nicolas Cage
  • Benjamin Franklin Gates
  • Harvey Keitel
  • Agent Sadusky
  • Jon Voight
  • Patrick Henry Gates
  • Diane Kruger
  • Dr. Abigail Chase
  • Sean Bean
  • Ian Howe
  • Justin Bartha
  • Riley Poole
  • David Dayan Fisher
  • Shaw
  • Christopher Plummer
  • John Adams Gates
Average Stars:
Reviewed on: November 26th, 2004
Nicolas Cage in National Treasure.

Nicolas Cage in National Treasure.

National Treasure is an Indiana Jones like adventure that centers on American Revolutionary history. The American landmarks stirred some patriotic pride in me but i found the final treasure to be a disappointment.

Benjamin Franklin Gates (Cage) is a descendent of a long line of Americans who hold a secret to an ancient treasure. The problem is that they only have a single clue to where it is and nobody in the historical society believes them. Gates' father and grandfather have looked for the treasure and failed. Benjamin gets some major financial backing and goes after the treasure. His first clue leads to a second clue and then a third. All of which take him and his companions through historical American Revolutionary sites.

Nicholas Cage is a great comedian. He was great in Raising Arizona and Peggy Sue Got Married. In National Treasure he is less than adequate. Harrison Ford set the bar for the role of antiquities hunter very high. Brendan Fraser rose to that bar in The Mummy movies but Cage fails to make the club. His screen charm is best when using sarcasm and Charles Grodin like slow burn delivery. He lacks Ford's and Fraser's macho gusto and clumsy charm.

Justin Bartha, as Cages' computer geek pal, Riley, fairs better. He often gets excited and provides the comic relief. He makes humorous comments throughout the movie such as, "Who wants to go down the creepy tunnel inside the tomb first?"

National Treasure works as a great advertisement for domestic summer vacation ideas. As a treasure hunt, it is fun but makes little sense. Try not to put much thought into anything as you watch this movie and you will have a better time.

Reviewed on: June 19th, 2005
Nicolas Cage in National Treasure.

Nicolas Cage in National Treasure.

National Treasure does have some things in common with the Indiana Jones' movies, but I don't think that's the model they're imitating. It bears more in common with The Da Vinci Code where the secret of an ancient riddle is hidden in a historical object.

While Eric's right that Cage is no Ford, I don't think he's even trying to be. I enjoyed his performance. The problem is, as Eric intimated, the lack of sense involved in the treasure hunt. The character's ability to figure out exactly what is meant by each clue is as astounding as the clues are ludicrous. For whom were the clues left? And why were they left? Presumably the original keepers of the treasure knew where they put it and since they wanted it to be kept a secret, why leave clues for others? And why, oh why, if you didn't want a treasure of that size found, would you keep it all in one place? And even the reasons for keeping it secret in the first place are a bit dodgy.

I did enjoy this movie for the most part, but more as a guilty pleasure, like a paperback you might read at the beach. There's very little substance, but plenty of movement to keep you entertained, so long as you don't think about it all too much.

Reviewed on: March 2nd, 2010
Diane Kruger, Nicolas Cage and Justin Bartha.

Diane Kruger, Nicolas Cage and Justin Bartha.

You are both a bit harsh on this movie. I found it to be totally entertaining in a B-movie, Sunday afternoon matinee sort of way. Cage is fine and the clues are interesting. I got completely caught up in the search and found the final treasure to be fascinating. If only such a thing existed, like scrolls from the library at Alexandria!

Scott, I disagree about the clues being stupid. They were obviously left behind so that in the future someone might be able to find it and keep it safe in a museum. At the time of the Revolution it would have been impossible for our young nation to keep such priceless treasures safe. But I’m being silly in taking it this seriously. This is pure escapist entertainment. It is fast-paced, exciting and humorous with an intriguing premise. And that is more than most movies offer.

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