There's no shame in admitting all the things you forgot about National Treasure. But now that it's moved to Disney+, you can go back and rewatch one of Nic Cage’s greatest (and strangest) films over and over. It's the type of movie that's designed to keep you entertained for a couple of hours, only to gradually fade from memory until the next time it pops up on your recommended viewing lists. It isn't even the craziest Nicolas Cage movie, even though he plays a man named Benjamin Franklin Gates (for real) who has to steal the Declaration of Independence. If you pay closer attention the next time you're streaming, you may realize National Treasure is much weirder than you remember.
It’s not hard to understand what drew Nic Cage to the role of an explorer who’s down on his luck and thrust into a world of international intrigue. This is the kind of role comparable to an appetizer for an average action star, but under the care of Cage, it becomes a four-course meal. If you don't have Disney+ and haven’t watched National Treasure in a while, then sign up today and prepare to follow a wooden lantern down memory lane.
Treasure Hunter Is Not A Real Job
Something oddly frustrating in National Treasure and its sequel is how the title "treasure hunter" gets thrown around with such ease. Early on in the first film, when Benjamin Franklin Gates and his hacker friend Riley Poole are trying to convince Dr. Abigail Chase someone is going to steal the Declaration of Independence, she responds by asking, "You're one of those treasure hunters aren't you?" This suggests there are so many treasure hunters she routinely fields calls from amateur archeologists getting their Indiana Jones on all day long.
The Public At Large Is Far Too Interested In The Treasure Room
Is it cool an archeologist found a cavern full of treasure hidden under a church in Baltimore? Absolutely. But is it anything to get excited about if you're not said archeologist or someone who works for the National Archive? Not really. It's safe to assume if this kind of discovery actually occurred, people might be interested, but they'd likely wait to see the treasure at a museum.
However, in the world of National Treasure, people are so into the idea of treasure hunting Benjamin Franklin Gates and his team become superstars after they uncover the Founding Fathers' secret riches. Their speaking engagements sell out and people get pumped about them. Even Riley, the team's hacker, writes a "bestseller" resembling something a 12-year-old would forget they owned.
Benjamin Franklin Gates Gets A Finder's Fee On All That Treasure
After Benjamin Franklin Gates and his team locate the treasure and convince the FBI not to send them all to prison for their crime spree, the government doesn't simply let them off; they offer Gates a 10% finder's fee. The treasure's value is around $10 billion, but Gates only asks for a 1% fee because he didn't become a treasure hunter for the money, but rather for the thrill of the hunt.
Still, 1% of $10 billion is $100 million, so it's not like he didn't make any money off the deal. Somehow, Gates and his hacker friend managed to spend most of their money between the first and second film only to find themselves back at square one. Thank goodness there are other national treasures out there.
Gates Gives Dr. Chase An Original George Washington Pin To Woo Her
When Benjamin Franklin Gates tries to warn Dr. Chase about his ex-business partner's plan to steal the Declaration of Independence, he's almost laughed out of the room. That is until he turns on the charm and discusses her collection of George Washington inaugural lapel pins. The chemistry in the scene is obviously off the charts, but Dr. Chase isn't about to jump in bed with some treasure hunter just because he knows about George Washington.
Dr. Chase finally warms up to Gates when he sends her a gift: the one George Washington inauguration pin she doesn't own. When she sees the pin she basically melts. Who can blame her? Is there anything sexier than a 220-year-old piece of election merch?