Key to the Sacred Pattern

19 December 2007

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets Review

The allure of a seeing something on the silver screen is that you are mystically transported out of your everyday life. Reality is suspended and any numbers of worlds open up that are impossible to obtain for those munching on popcorn in the aisles. Our inner Indiana Jones is called to in National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. Nicholas Cage reprises his role as Benjamin Franklin Gates, finder of the lost Masonic/Templar treasure in the first film.

The hook this time is a little known group called the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC). The KCG was a very real group of Southern sympathizers that operated as somewhat of a guerilla force during, and after, the Civil War. Modern day treasure hunters have long thought that the KGC horded gold and goods in secret locations throughout the country waiting until the time was right for the South to rise again.

The movie’s treasure trail begins with John Wilkes Booth and another member of the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC) seeking the aid of Cage’s great-great-great grandfather Thomas Gates. Members of the KGC have planned the assignation of Lincoln and are hunting for a treasure that will fund a second Civil War. Gates is sucked into their plot by being asked to decrypt a cipher contained in John Wilkes Booth’s diary.

Granddaddy Gates cracks the code and realizes that he’s been duped by the seditious KGC members. Gates burns the relevant pages of Booth’s diary and is shot by a KGC agent for his trouble. Flash forward 140 years and bad guy Ed Harris presents a fragment of the diary to the world, naming the Gates family as the masterminds behind the Lincoln assignation. Feeling the only way to clear the family name, Cage and father Jon Voight is to find the treasure the KGC was looking for. After that the usual globe trotting, treasure hunting high jinx ensue.

National Treasure 2 follows the same formula of car chases, techomancy, and 30 second solutions to hidden history as its predecessor. The film is an easy on the mind, romp into finding lost loot. That’s my biggest problem with the whole endeavor, that it’s easy on the mind. I understand that the key to commercial success is to make a movie accessible to everyone. However, the script writers had a golden opportunity to plant Easter eggs for those historically minded folks out there.

There was a half hearted attempt to do so. The references to Albert Pike, the missing pages of Booth’s diary, and the fictional President’s book of Secrets did give me hope there would be more to sink my teeth into. But when dealing with a film that literally has our hero pull a lever and the entrance to the treasure appears, one gives up hope for any additional complexity. The biggest mystery left to ponder in the film is what’s on page 47 of the President’s Book of Secrets. Oh wait, I know… It’s the hook for National Treasure 3. I guess it is possible to solve some mysteries in less than 30 seconds.

There’s no real reason to pay for this instead of waiting to download it on Amazon Unboxed. That is unless you have nothing better to do this weekend and wish to be inspired to hunt for long lost gold…

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