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052: National Treasure

Maximilian Rivera March 21, 2017
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By Max Rivera | @MaxRiveraFilm

Premise:  A historian races to steal and protect the Declaration of Independence before a team of mercenaries gets to it.
​Rotten Tomatoes Score: 44%

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In the film National Treasure we are promised one thing — Nicolas Cage is going to steal the declaration of independence. We are then treated to a carefully calculated set of sequences that deliver on that promise. National Treasure isn’t a critical darling, but it’s a fun, rewarding popcorn film that doesn’t waste any screen time.

Let’s get the (arguable) negatives out of the way. National Treasure isn’t going to blow your mind with cutting edge film concepts, nor will it present you with realism or gore and grit. Instead what you get is a fun film that lays out a set of goals and then accomplishes them.

It’s notable that we don’t get Crazed Nicolas Cage at all in this film, and Sean Bean doesn’t die. Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Harvey Keitel, and Jon Voight round out the cast in this picture.

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Both Scott and I are insistent that this film works on many levels. First of all, it’s satisfying. You have a set of heroes who know they need to break the law to preserve the law. There are powerhouse lines like “I’m gonna steal the Declaration of Independence,” scattered throughout.

​Cage’s Gates works as a great underdog, living under the shadow of his family’s eccentricity. But now he has the first real opportunity to not only clear his family’s stigma, but also prove that they were right the whole time.

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However, Bean’s Ian has infinite resources and can counter most of their movements. Where this differs, though, is that Ian is just an amateur historian, while Gates the younger and elder, Riley, and Abby are all historians in some sense. With their combined efforts, they are able to thwart Ian’s treachery and preserve the treasure, as well as the Declaration.

Best of all, the subtext is so obvious that you don’t mind, these scrappy Americans are fighting over American independence with a British billionaire. You can’t help but smile every time our heroes toss out some Ben Franklin trivia and then solve the next clue.

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National Treasure was followed by a sequel, which is cheesier and packs less of a punch — but still has some moments.

We end our episode by spitballing some ideas for National Treasure 3. Jerry Bruckheimer, if you’re listening, we’re always available to write these into feature scripts. Hit us up!

In case you missed it, we’re running March Movie Madness. Check it out and vote before it’s too late! 

Max is a marketing copywriter by day, filmmaker and screenwriter by night. He resides in Charlotte, NC, and loves his dogs, watching movies, building LEGO sets, and eating food. Lots of food.You can find Max at his personal website and twitter.