National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Rated 2.0

Treasure hunter Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) and his father (Jon Voight) are back, trying to clear an ancestor of complicity in the Lincoln assassination—and, of course, find a treasure. Somehow, the two goals are connected, but we never see how; the too-many-cooks script (by Cormac and Marianne Wibberly, Gregory Poirier, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio) is an insane Rube Goldberg farrago that’s impossible to follow for ten minutes at a time. There’s some fun in Cage’s banter with Diane Kruger (also back, still spunky) and Justin Bartha (though the writers make tactless jokes about his character being a mere hanger-on); some excitement from director Jon Turteltaub; and extra acting chops from Ed Harris (as a sort-of-villain) and Helen Mirren (as Cage’s professor mother); but the budding franchise seems already out of steam.