National Treasure: 2

Nicolas Cage, Jon Voight, Diane Kruger and Justin Bartha star in “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.”

Yes, the “National Treasure” movies stretch history’s credibility worse than a rubber band. While you wouldn’t want to base a term paper on their accuracy, the original and now its sequel “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” do provide something rare these days — a fun, wholesome adventure the entire family can enjoy.

Nicolas Cage is back as history buff/treasure seeker Benjamin Gates. Ben and his father, Patrick (Jon Voight) are enjoying some long-awaited respect for their family name when a diary produced by Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) reveals a conspiracy implicating a Gates ancestor in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The diary, belonging to John Wilkes Booth, is missing a page and lists the Gates family member in it.

So Ben and Patrick, along with help of Ben’s assistant Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and his estranged girlfriend, Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) set out to clear their ancestor’s name.

Like the original “National Treasure” the action takes place all around the globe, including stops in Paris, London, Washington, D.C. and eventually to Mount Rushmore. Various clues and little puzzles keep popping up that Ben and the gang are able to solve with seemingly little trouble.

Soon, Ben’s mother, Emily (Helen Mirren) is called into action to help with a clue which all points to a so-called “Book of Secrets” containing all of the country’s biggest secrets and is seen only by the president of the United States. How do you get the book? Why by getting its location from the president (Bruce Greenwood) himself.

Hot on Ben’s heels are Wilkinson as well as the FBI led by Agent Sadusky (Harvey Keitel) the man chasing Ben down in the first “National Treasure.”

“National Treasure’s” strength is its fun action. There are plenty of car chases, foot chases and close calls to make up for the historical inaccuracies. It’s best not to take anything presented as fact too seriously. There’s also plenty of wry humor and one-liners delivered by Cage and Bartha primarily to keep the mood light. The puzzles are kind of fun to try figuring out even though it seems impossible to come up with the answers as quickly as Ben and company do.

Family adventure movies are hard to come by these days and that’s the best thing about the “National Treasure” movies. They fill a genre that is becoming more ignored by Hollywood. You can take your family to this movie and not be embarrased by anything you see.

The door is potentially left open to another sequel. That might not be a bad thing. There’s still plenty of history to work through, no matter how much another sequel might embellish it.

Two and a half stars out of five

“National Treasure: Book of Secrets” is 124 minutes long and is rated PG for some violence and action.

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