Making the Grades
In the first National Treasure, Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicholas Cage) had to redeem the family name from infamy by uncovering a huge trove of ancient artifacts.
Now the Gates name is being sullied again, incriminated in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by a descendent of a Confederate general. Armed with a partially burnt scrap of paper from the diary of Lincoln's killer John Wilkes Booth (Christian Carmargo), Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) accuses Ben's progenitor of frequenting with the Knights of the Golden Circle and masterminding the murder of the U.S.'s sixteenth president. The allegations have Ben and his father Patrick (John Voight) bristling and hot on the trail for proof that will clear their great grandfather's reputation.
Reuniting with his estranged girlfriend, Abigail (Diane Kruger), and his computer nerd sidekick, Riley (Justin Bartha), Ben deciphers a cryptic code that sends him hopscotching across the pond and worming his way into Buckingham Palace. There he locates the next shred of information carved on a primitive plank stowed in the Queen's desk. Having absconded from the royal household with the board in hand, Ben asks his mom (Helen Mirren), a university professor of ancient Native languages, to help unlock the meaning of the symbols.
As in the previous film, the discovery of one clue sends him scurrying after another, eventually driving him to seek out a concealed book whose location is known only to the country's highest governing official. But as Ben races from the site of France's own Statue of Liberty to the grounds of the White House, his search is hampered by the pursuit of trained mercenaries and a black market antiquities trader who wants to ensure his own place in history.
The movie's opening scenes, set in 1865, may cause the most concern for younger audience members. They depict Lincoln's death as well as the close range shooting of a man in front of his son. In modern times, Ben and his cohorts race through the crowded streets of London, smashing cars and nearly clipping pedestrians but narrowly missing a pack of dogs out for a walk. Other minor content concerns include some sexual posturing in the Oval Office and brief portrayals of social drinking.
Although the script suffers from a few moments of predictability, Cormac and Marianne Wibberley's screenplay still brings another era of American history to life. It also extols the importance of preserving a family name for the generations who follow. Filled with honorable intentions and plenty of action, this adventure may prove to be a family treasure.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about National Treasure 2 Book of Secrets.
Why is it so important to Ben to clear his grandfather’s name? What other characters are motivated to establish their family’s place in history? What honorable sacrifices do they eventually make?
How does this film portray the value of animal life verses human life?
A secret organization known as the Masons is portrayed in the first National Treasure. This film depicts the Knights of the Golden Circle also known as Copperheads. You can find more information on this covert group who fought for Southern interests at http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/history/A0827934.html.
Ben’s ability to decipher codes helps him unlock hidden mysteries. One clue he cracks is the Playfair Cipher. To learn how to use this cryptic message system for your own communications visit http://www.braingle.com/brainteasers/codes/playfair.php.