About eight years ago, something happened to Nicolas Cage. Known until then as an offbeat but fascinating charactor actor, Cage won an Oscar for playing an alcoholic who literally drinks himself to death in Leaving Las Vegas—and then he suddenly turned into an action hero. Many, but not all, of Cage's onscreen adventures since then have been produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, including the R-rated action movies The Rock and Con Air and the PG-13 heist flick Gone in 60 Seconds. But now, with National Treasure—a PG-rated romp through the relics, myths and legends surrounding America's founding fathers—Cage and Bruckheimer have set their sights on a younger, and perhaps less critical, audience. This film is being released as a full-fledged Walt Disney picture, and unlike some of Cage's more intense flicks, this one has the benign villains and occasionally silly sensibility of those films Disney used to churn out back in the '70s and show as two-parters on their Sunday-night "Wonderful World of Disney." The main difference is, this new film has bigger stars and a bigger budget.
Seen in that light, National Treasure can be enjoyed as preposterous fun, even when you sense that the cast and crew are just going through the motions. Cage plays Benjamin Franklin Gates, the latest in a long line of men who have shared an incredible secret going back centuries and transmitted from one generation to the next. The first time we see Benjamin, he is a preteen boy rummaging through his grandfather's attic—and when his grandfather (Christopher Plummer) finds him there, he sits the lad down, tells him he's probably old enough now to hear the family story, and proceeds to tell him the tall, tall tale of a vast, unimaginable ...1
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