Oookay, like "Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo," I went and saw this movie without having seen the prequel. But it's been reported to be on top of box office lists for the quite some time, and then there's good word of mouth. So I figured, "what the heck..."
The formula is soooo basic: macho hero (Nic Cage with just a wee bit more hair), hot chick (Diane Kruger, who is so on-paper perfectly beautiful that she almost comes across as bland), goof-ball who can do a lot of stuff (Joshua Bartha, who in this case is the resident computer expert at Mr. Cage's disposal. Can't do a team movie without one nowadays...), and then there's the old man for "elderly advice" or additional comic relief (Jon Voight, who is at his best when he plays a bad guy, so this movie ain't it, guys...).
The movie kicks off relatively decently, with the set-up for a "Da Vinci Code meets Indiana Jones meets... uhm... Nic Cage" kind of movie. But with all the too-convenient scenarios and the almost two-dimensional opposing characters, who eventually redeem themselves in typical popcorn fashion, National Treasure: Book of Secrets almost ends up being "The Goonies, 2008."
Ed Harris sets up Mr. Cage with the possibility that Cage's great-grandfather was involved in the assasination of Abe Lincoln, then Mr. Cage sets off on a crazy mission to find evidence to prove it otherwise. Cage's Ben Gates and Diane Kruger's Abigail Chase are estranged when the movie begins, Bartha's Riley Poole is peddling a book about the first movie's adventures, and somewhere along the way, we see Jon Voight wringing his hands over the thought of asking something of his ex-wife, played here by the classy Helen Mirren.
Ed Harris tails Cage's little crew until they cross paths at Mount Rushmore, where they find the literal City of Gold. a few kinks here and there... and they lived happily ever after. Honest.
Oh, and this is the first movie in a long while wherein the U.S. President was portrayed in such an intelligent, and almost positive light... Intelligent , that is, until he lets himself get kidnapped by one guy!! Bwahahahahaha...
Ed Harris' talent was totally wasted here. The guy deserves better material. Uhm, come to think of it, so do Nic Cage, Diane Kruger, Jon Voight, and most especially Miss Helen Mirren. Joshua Bartha, on the other hand, belongs in this pop-corn crap.
But to be fair, the movie was a pleasant way to kill a couple of hours. But it would've made very little difference if we chose to watch "The Chipmunks" instead.