A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets is a 2007 sequel in which Nicolas Cage plays a treasure hunter in search of the City of Gold. The action in this fast-paced adventure sequel is loud and sometimes tense (car chases, near falls from high ledges in a dark cave, etc.), but for the most part it's pretty tame. The most troubling scene comes early, when, in a flashback to 1865, a child sees his father shot and killed; the sequence also includes a reenactment of Abraham Lincoln's assassination (not bloody, but obvious). In the present day, there's some shooting, car crashes, hand-to-hand fighting, and threats made with guns. Expect some cleavage shots, plus innocuous flirting and kissing. There are also moments where the lead characters are in England and adopt cringe-worthy fake English accents while saying every stereotypical British expression they can think of.
What's the story?
In NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS, history fanatic/inveterate puzzle solver Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) is making his living lecturing on his family's contributions to U.S. legacies. So imagine his horror when another self-proclaimed patriot, Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris), asserts that a Gates ancestor was a "mastermind" in the assassination of Ben's favorite president, Abraham Lincoln. Declaring that he must clear his family's name, Ben takes off on a treasure hunt along with his history-buff dad, Patrick (Jon Voight), ex-girlfriend/archivist, Abigail (Diane Kruger), and sidekick Riley (Justin Bartha). Ben's mother (Helen Mirren), who hasn't spoken to Patrick for 32 years, joins the team as translator. The treasure hunt takes the crew from Paris to London to Washington, D.C., with each location affording glimpses of historical monuments and occasions for Cage's antics. Soon the hunters are being hunted by FBI agents (led by Harvey Keitel).
Is it any good?
It's never a good sign when you can figure out a secret plot before a movie's characters do. Then again, that's not very hard to do when the plot is the same as the first time you saw it. Unfortunately, this sequel adds precious few new ideas to the blueprint established in National Treasure.
As in the first film, Cage is the primary draw, alternately goofy and smirky and always entertaining. Frankly, he's the only cast member who can make the unwieldy expository dialogue seem at all plausible.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the differences between real history and "Hollywood history." Why do you think filmmakers bend the facts so often? Is real history less entertaining than the kind that's manufactured for the movies?
How does this movie compare to other adventure movies? Were there any scenes that seemed similar to scenes in other action/adventure movies?
How is background music used in this movie during action sequences? How would these scenes be different without the music? What are some other ways in which background music is used to heighten scenes in movies?
Do you think this movie is trying to prompt kids to take an interest in history? What do you know about the historical sites featured in the film (the White House, Buckingham Palace, and Mount Rushmore)? How could you find out more?
- In theaters: December 20, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: May 19, 2008
- Cast: Diane Kruger, Harvey Keitel, Nicolas Cage
- Director: Jon Turteltaub
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, History
- Run time: 124 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some violence and action.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.