Treasure: Book of Secrets, Dir. John Turteltaub, Cert; PG (Opens
8th Feb 2008)
Cage has somewhat blotted his copybook of late, starring in a handful
of nondescript action films, a bevy of fair to middling historical
dramas and, worst of all, the sacrilegious atrocity that was the
remake of Robin Hardys brilliant 1973 occult thriller The
Wicker Man. Im not sure I can ever forgive him for that.
These factors hardly filled me with joyful anticipation for the already lukewarmly
received sequel to John Turteltaubs 2004 blockbuster. As it pans out,
its a lot better than I expected.
This time around, the mystery is centred around the assassination of Abraham
Lincoln. Benjamin Gates (Cage) is presenting a seminar about that fateful night
at Fords Theatre in 1865, when the shadowy figure of expert archaeologist
Mitch Wilkinson (the effervescent Ed Harris) rises to challenge history, suggesting
that the Gates family themselves are descended from a man directly linked to
John Wilkes Booths deadly plan. Naturally, Gates is incensed at such a
revelation, and that forms the major crux of the remainder of the movie.
The more anally retentive, anorak sporting, finger wagging movie geeks will
find plenty here to spit and snarl about indeed many of the gaping plot
holes are sitting ducks waiting for their feathers to be plucked but
for pure entertainment value, Book of Secrets delivers just over
two hours of family fun with enough spills and thrills to appeal to me, mothers
and munchkins alike.
To give you an idea of how ridiculous it gets, both Buckingham Palace and the
White House are infiltrated quickly and with little ado, and one of the clues
leads Gates to the Statue of Liberty a landmark which wasnt even
created until two whole decades after Lincolns death. But lets not
split hairs, for although such flaws may spoil the picture for the purists,
for me it just added to the films innocent charm.
Talking of charm, Cages on-screen parents, Patrick Gates (Jon Voight)
and Professor Emily Appleton (Helen Mirren) provide bags of it as the recently
separated couple who clearly still have feelings for each other, while Justin
Bartha reprises his role as Gates hapless assistant Riley Poole. His character
is a lovable buffoon, a time honoured directors trick of the trade
to offer the audience light relief following scenes of a heavier dynamic.
Other key players are the beautiful Diane Kruger as Gates estranged live-in
lover, Harvey Keitel once again playing against type as FBI leader Agent Sadusky,
and Bruce Greenwood playing a frankly ludicrous, seemingly non-corrupt American
president, which Im sure youll agree stretches the imagination far
more than the aforementioned plot holes.
In short, its hardly a classic, but then it never sets out to be,
and it kept me amused enough throughout the two hours and four minutes
of its duration. 7/10