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National Treasure

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: National Treasure

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Sean Bean
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Rated: PG
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: November 2004
Genre: Action

*Also starring: Harvey Keitel, Diane Kruger, Christopher Plummer, David Dayan Fisher, Oleg Taktarov, Stewart Finlay-McLennan, Mark Pellegrino, Annie Parisse, Armando Riesco, Tyler Marks, Joshua Biton, Nick Benson

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

During this Thanksgiving week, why not take the entire family on an American treasure hunt that's filled with intriguing historical clues leading to high-spirited adventure?

When Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) was a lad, his grandfather (Christopher Plummer) told him that our Founding Fathers had buried the fabled Treasure of the Knights Templar to hide it from the British during the Revolutionary War. This stash was said to be the most staggeringly enormous accumulation of riches and religious artifacts ever - and the only map to find it was concealed in invisible ink on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

His skeptical father (Jon Voight) gave up hope after being ridiculed by academicians, but Ben's persistence gets him a wealthy investor (Sean Bean) who quickly betrays him and tries to steal the fragile parchment. That leaves Ben, his top-tech assistant (Justin Bartha) and a National Archives curator (Diane Kruger) to unravel a series of mind-twisting riddles as they dash through Washington, Philadelphia and Manhattan - with an FBI agent (Harvey Keitel) in hot pursuit.

It's an evocative, fascinating premise with an ingenious, cleverly constructed plot by Jim Kouf and Cormac & Marianne Wibberley. Director Jon Turteltaub layers in the atmosphere and pops up with surprises at just the right times. If only his pacing had the white-hot energy it needs.

What's most amazing is that the story's genesis lies in actual legends involving the secretive Freemasons and the meaning behind the pyramid and single eye on the U.S. dollar bill. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "National Treasure" is a rip-roaring, fun-filled 8. Attention cryptographers and code-breakers: it's one of the best scavenger hunts to come along in ages!

Copyright 2004 Susan Granger

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