Within the first 10 minutes of National Treasure, a gunpowder-packed treasure ship, submerged under the icy tundra, explodes. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Oh Jerry Bruckheimer, how I love your subtle touch.
Nicholas Cage stars as Benjamin Franklin Gates, a "treasure hunter" intent on restoring the good name of his family by proving the existence of a treasure trove hidden by the Founding Fathers. Accompanied by his partners Ian (Sean Bean) and Riley (Justin Bartha), Ben learns that there is a map that leads to the booty etched on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Oh, and it's invisible. One partner betrays him, and then it's a race against the clock to steal the Declaration and uncover its secret before the double-crosser gets to it. Throw in your token hot-girl-who-happens-to-be-a-PhD-in-historic-artifacts (Diane Kruger) and you've got yourself a movie. If this sounds stupid, formulaic and over-the-top, it is. But that doesn't mean it isn't entertaining. National Treasure is a giant scavenger hunt, and who doesn't like those?
Surprisingly enough for someone who was last seen in that travesty of American cinema we call Gigli, Bartha is what saves this movie from bombing. He's dead pan, he's glib, he's got great comic timing. He's proof positive that Ben Affleck and J.Lo strangle any talent that comes within 10 feet of them. His character also offers much needed evidence that this movie takes itself about as seriously as its audience should.
Towards the end, the whole thing tries way too hard to be Indiana Jones, complete with rickety bridges, torches, tombs and crotchety estranged fathers. But this is, after all, a movie based on the premise that you can steal the Declaration of Independence. Just suspend your incredulity for two hours and you'll enjoy yourself.