It’s that time of year once again, dear readers! As my state begs people not to shoot off fireworks so soon after a record-breaking heatwave and at the start of what could be one of the worst fire seasons yet, it’s time to celebrate the Fourth of July! Last year I marked the occasion by watching National Treasure, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that this year I’m looking at National Treasure: Book of Secrets. So without further ado, LET’S KIDNAP THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!
Mr. Nic Cage is back, once again going by the name Benjamin Gates, descendant of a long line of patriots. But uh oh! An obviously evil guy named Mitch (Ed Harris) has evidence that Cage’s great-great-grandfather actually worked with Confederate traitors, the Knights of the Golden Circle, and helped kill Abraham Lincoln! In order to clear his family’s name, Nic gathers up his old pal Riley, estranged girlfriend Abigail, and kooky father and goes looking for the lost golden city of Cíbola. This is all obviously a ploy by Mitch to follow Cage and swoop in to claim the city for himself, but most of the characters in this are really, really, really dumb. But sneaking into Buckingham Palace and the Oval Office aren’t enough, so Cage has to kidnap President… um… Somename (Bruce Greenwood). See, the Presidents have passed down a Book of Secrets–I don’t think it’s ever actually called that, instead being referred to mostly as “the President’s secret book” or “the book”–and information Nic needs is in there. The nameless President shares the info, but Mitch is a step ahead and takes Nic’s movie mother (Helen Mirren) hostage. Turns out Cíbola is actually under Mount Rushmore, but it’s filled with traps. The protagonists and Mitch find the city, but age has weakened the walls and it starts flooding. Mitch sacrifices himself to save the others, with a last request of Cage to not erase his involvement. Our heroes survive, the President pardons Cage for treason, estranged relationships are fixed, and the truth about Cage’s great-great-grandfather is proven by… by…
Hang on, I need to check my notes.
…huh. So they found Cíbola, but that’s it. That’s the end of it. The city exists, so Thomas Gates wasn’t involved in killing Lincoln. I have no idea how that’s supposed to make sense, but that’s all we got. But wait one more minute! Mitch sacrificed himself? All he wanted was credit for finding the golden city? So… he sat on incriminating evidence for 140 years–evidence plucked out of a fireplace by Confederate traitors–and wasn’t a part of the Knights of the Golden Circle, trying to find a city made of gold to fund a future insurrection against the United States? So what was the point of introducing the Knights in the first place? The incriminating evidence was incomplete, but we never find out the missing text. What was the point of that? How does any of this go through editing and come out such a confusing mess? And on top of all that, the Nic Cage Freakout Meter–now a feature on the blog–only comes in at a 2, with one big freakout early on and fake screaming near the end. Disappointing. Not disappointing enough for me not to eventually watch the third film and/or the Disney+ TV show, but still.
NIC CAGE FREAKOUT METER:
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