National Treasure (2004)

national treasure poster 2004 movie nicolas cage
4.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 2/10
Visual: 3/10

Family friendly action film

Dull story, bad acting, no interesting visuals

Movie Info

Movie Name:  National Treasure

Studio:  Walt Disney Pictures

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):

MPAA Rating:  PG


Don’t shoot the messenger…or the Declaration of Independence!

Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) is following in the footsteps of his grandfather John Adams Gates (Christopher Plummer) against the wishes of his father Patrick Gates (Jon Voight).  He’s searching for a long-lost treasure hidden by the Founding Fathers…a quest that his wrecked his family’s name.  When Ben and his partner Ian Howe (Sean Bean) discover that the key to the treasure could be hidden on the back of the Declaration of Independence, Ian turns on Ben to try to claim the treasure for himself.  Now, Ben with his assistant Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and an unwilling Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) find themselves on the trail of the treasure with the stolen Declaration of Independence…while agents led by Agent Sandusky (Harvey Keitel) are on their trail.


I have the intrigue of paste…

Directed by Jon Turteltaub, National Treasure was an action-adventure family film.  The movie received mixed reviews from critics but became a big box office success and started a franchise.

National Treasure has a lot of stuff going against it for me.  Nicolas Cage gets on my nerves, I’m not a fan of the popular “Masonic conspiracy” films that became so popular, and it seemed like a pretty generic action film in its marketing.

It is obvious when watching National Treasure that the movie was inspired by the popularity of things like Angels and Demons (which came out in 2000) and the mega popular Da Vinci Code (which came out in 2003).  I’m sure that the movie was already in production as The Da Vinci Code picked up steam at the bookstores, but it also had to recognize how people like conspiracies.  The problem with both The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure is that they are populated by some of the least interesting characters.


What movie are we in? Who am I?

All the leads in the film really don’t work.  Nicolas Cage is the least of the film’s problems as the flat, generic leading man, but he’s matched by a spark-less relationship with Kruger as his leading woman.  Add to that an obnoxious sidekick in Bartha and a less than interesting villain in Sean Bean, you already have problems.  Once again however, all bad performances are topped by Jon Voight who in recent years has forgotten how to act…which is sad since he was so good in some of his earlier roles like Midnight Cowboy and Deliverance.


Here’s the treasure…It’s national…

The action of the film is also less than action packed.  It mostly involves walking around old buildings.  There isn’t much tension built and most moments where there could be a really good sequence, the action falls short.  With models like Raiders of the Lost Ark, the film should have been a more swashbuckling adventure rather than a snoozer.

National Treasure is one of those films I find as an epitome for generic action.  It is a Walt Disney produced bore that instead of wowing kids, I imagine would have them wandering off.  It is the type of film that a family can sit down for, but I think there are so many other good family movies that checking out National Treasure should be a last option.  National Treasure was followed by National Treasure:  Book of Secrets.

Related Links:

National Treasure:  Book of Secrets (2007)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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