By Greg McKinley
By Greg McKinley
Every family has their skeleton in the closet, but the Gates family happens to have one worth billions.
From producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Jon Turteltaub comes one of the best wild goose chases to use past clues in the present day since the Indiana Jones trilogy.
The movie “National Treasure” opens with young Benjamin Franklin Gates (Hunter Gomez) being told by his grandfather about a treasure that has been fought and killed for since before recorded history. The treasure after centuries of changing hands was eventually lost until knights rediscovered it during the first crusade and used it to form a secret order called the Knights Templar. The Knights Templar, persecuted in Europe by monarchs after the treasure, shipped the treasure to North America and changed their name to The Freemasons. The treasure remained in America until the Revolutionary War when it was again hidden away to protect it from the British.
The Freemasons kept the treasure hidden and untouched as one by one those who knew of its location died. Finally only one man was left, the then dying Continental Congress calligrapher Charles Carroll.
Unable to reach the president of the United States to reveal the secret location, Carroll entrusted the mysterious phrase and only clue to the location of the treasure: “the secret lies with Charlotte” to his Carriage driver who happened to be Benjamin’s great-greatgrandfather. The family passed the secret, with each new generation trying and failing to find the treasure.
Years later middle aged Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) is continuing the 180-yearold family tradition of searching for the treasure with financial backer and soon to be bad guy Ian Howe (Sean Bean). They discover near the North Pole the frozen remains of a ship named Charlotte. An initially disappointing lack of treasure leads to the discovery of a riddle hidden amidst a barrel of black powder.
Gates rapidly deciphers the riddle which points to another clue on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Howe instantly jumps to the conclusion that they must steal the Declaration. Howe, in unsurprising bad guy fashion, decides to kill Gates because of his reluctance to steal the manuscript. Gates nearly escapes by setting off the gunpowder in the barrels.
Gates, back in Washington, decides that to save the Declaration of Independence and the treasure from Howe he has to get to them first. This sets off a wild goose chase from clue to clue that makes the whole movie what it is.
Based primarily on the constant following of clues, the movie revolves around both sides vying for the Declaration of Independence. Riddles leading from one location to another are revealed with smooth, though sometimes rushed and hazy transitions that create a thin yet enjoyable plot. The riddles are deciphered so fast it seems that all that is needed to solve them is to go “hmm” while scratching your chin.
The conflicts in the movie are excellently done with an interesting cat and mouse game of Gates holding the upper hand in knowledge and information and Howe having the upper hand in force and money. The action scenes aren’t too over the top with a realistic and smooth flow to them.
The movie is a surprisingly entertaining wild goose chase.