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National Treasure English Movie

Feature Film | 2004
Critics:
Jan 12, 2005 By Subhash K. Jha

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Every actor has his lazy day. Nicolas Cage has been doing a series of heavy movies that milk his anxiety to exude angst on screen. After playing an alcoholic wreck and the like in "Leaving Las Vegas" and "Bringing Out The Dead", Cage is unleashed... with disastrous results.


"National Treasure" will arguably qualify as the committed actor's worst performance ever.


For one, Cage's heart just doesn't seem to be in the silly treasure hunt. Harrison Ford could be Indiana Jones and then still walk into "Regarding Henry" without a flinch. Nicolas Cage fails to achieve the transition from metaphysics to trivia.


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Of course he makes all the right moves as Benjamin Franklin Gates whose family has been in the serious business of treasure hunting for many generations. Cage's interaction with his grandfather and father gives director Turteltaub a chance to bring in actors like Christopher Plummer and Jon Voight to give weight to the wispy adventure story.


But to no avail. Unlike Steven Spielberg's adventure stories which allow us to get sucked into the fantasy without feeling foolish about the childishness of the spectacle, "National Treasure" never allows us to get seriously involved with Gates's adventures, as he ropes in his best friend Riley (Justin Bartha) and a comely curator Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) to zoom across a zigzag of scriptural brainwaves that leave the characters and the plot breathless.


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We remain largely untouched by the onslaught of brittle fantasy and tawdry spectacle. There's a strange sterility and stillness at the bottom of the extravagant sound and spectacle that characterize the characters' frenetic though futile chase to the finale.


The whole plot hinges on a treasure map printed on the back of the American Declaration Of Independence. Ms Kruger's incredulity at the premise is very much shared by the audience. While she gets sucked into the sterile spectacle we remain completely outside the orbit of opulent escapism.

Subhash K. Jha

   

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