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National Treasure (2004)

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National
Treasure

Directed by: John Turtletaub
Written by: John Tutletaub, etc.
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Justin Bartha, Sean Bean, and Diane Kruger

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AKA
"The Patriot and the Gold"

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Handling History with Care

SUMMARY:

In the 1860s, a matter of great importance was passed from the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence to his young driver. A secret of the world’s largest treasure, that was so large that "no one man alone should own it - not even a king." The driver, a young man named Gates, kept the secret of the treasure’s path in his family for eight generations, and now it has been passed down to Benjamin Gates, who’s grandfather’s stories spark his initiative to become a treasure hunter. Years later, he has begun to search along the path left by his ancestor, and following the clues and his sense of American History, Gates is hot on the trail. Several problems lie in his way, however, for he soon realizes that the map is written in invisible ink upon the back of the most guarded document in history - the Declaration of Independence, not to mention that one of his fellow hunters has betrayed him and now seeks to claim the treasure for himself. Can Gates protect the treasure he knows exists, let alone the survival of the Declaration, or will his attempts become a small footnote in history?

Escaping the Charlotte

POSITIVE ELEMENTS:

  • Benjamin Gates and his partners are proud of their heritage as Americans, and go to great lengths to protect it for future generations. Though his motives seem questionable, Gates seeks to protect a piece of American History from people he know will destroy it, but always considers peoples’ lives first.
  • Benjamin treats finding the treasure as a selfless act rather than the expected motivation, for he seeks to find it to give his family credibility after so many years of mockery and for history and those it affect’s sake.
  • No sexual content, save a small scene in a dressing room (we see the character’s heads only as they undress in separate rooms).
  • No explicit violence, which holds true to a PG rating (explosions, no casualty shootings, and a car chase). The body count is extremely low, if there was any at all (I’ll update after a second viewing).

NEGATIVE ELEMENTS:

  • A few profanities here and there. Suitable for ages twelve and up.
  • Benjamin Gates and his partner willingly partake in thievary when they aim to steal the Declaration of Independence to (1) use the map on the back to find the treasure, which they have good intentions for, and (2) to protect it from his former partner in hunting, who seeks to steal it, use it, and destroy it. Earlier, Benjamin refuses to steal the Declaration when his partner tells him he is able to (a background of criminal acts), which leads to his betrayal, but some may question why he goes against his former stance instead of finding a different route.

Should we, or Shouldn't we?

CONSENSUS:

A rollicking action flick that most of the family can enjoy, National Treasure is entertaining and exciting while still remaining clean. While its morality may be questioned by more mature audiences, it is not blatant in its presentation. Why the critics hated this one, I cannot tell. It has action, humor, suspense, a good plot, and a great payoff. The constant game of cat and mouse between the two treasure hunters and the path of clues keep you on the edge of your seat. Also, I found the treasure hunt to be pleasantly different, with the motivations of the good side being not selfish, but giving, which is indirectly a good example of Proverbs 3: 9-10: "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part that your land produces..."

APPLIED SCRIPTURE:

  • Matthew 6:24
  • Proverbs 3:9-10
  • Hebrews 13:5