As a young boy, Ben Gates is enthralled by his grandfather’s tales of long-lost treasure. In the tales, the Knights Templars take the treasure from Solomon’s Temple to bury in a very secret place, hiding it from the British. The only clue to its location is that the secret lies with ‘Charlotte’.
As an adult, Ben is determined to find the treasure. He believes that Charlotte is a ship that sank in the Arctic Ocean. He sets out with his friend Riley Poole and a crew of cutthroats headed by a man called Ian, who finances the expedition. They find the ship and discover what seems to be a pipe and a further clue indicating that the map to the treasure is written on the back of the Declaration of Independence in indelible ink. Things turn nasty when Ben refuses to steal the Declaration of Independence. Ian and his mates decide to blow the ship up with Ben and Riley still on board.
Ben and Riley survive the blast and return to the US. It then becomes a race to see who will find the map first, as Ben decides he must steal it to stop it from falling into Ian’s hands. Ben enlists the unwilling Dr Abigail Gates to help and she too soon becomes intrigued. The hunt leads them to various historic sights and eventually to Trinity Church. Here great danger awaits them in a tomb beneath the church. It becomes a battle of wits as to who will succeed.
Most of the violence in this movie is unrealistic and without consequence:
- Soldiers rampage a village.
- Mild war scenes are shown.
- Ben cuts his arm with a knife to make it bleed and spreads his blood over a book.
- A man throws a flare which ignites gunpowder and sets Ben’s arm on fire.
- In several gun battles Ian and mates try to shoot Ben and Riley – no-one gets seriously injured.
- Abigail is abducted and taken in the back of a van. She tries to escape and nearly falls out the van door.
- Ben punches one of the bad men.
- A rickety staircase in the tomb collapses and one of the bad men falls down a long way and presumably dies.
Content that may disturb children
- At the start of the movie, young Ben Gates is looking at his grandfather’s things with thunder in the background. Grandpa appears quite suddenly, startling Ben.
- The friends walk through the ship wreck in a dark eerie scene and they uncover some skeletons.
- A skeleton is guarding a barrel and Ben has to remove its fingers.
- Ben and Riley are trapped in the hold of the ship but manage to get out just before it explodes.
- A coffin is opened and a skeleton jumps out.
- Stairs collapse under Abigail and she nearly falls off. Ben saves her but then lets her go. Her fall is broken by a platform.
- Ian and crew leave Ben and friends locked in the tomb.
Although children in this age group will realise this movie is a fantasy, some might still be scared by the scenes described above, particularly where the man gets burned.
Children in this age group will not be scared by this movie.
When Ben takes Abigail home to his father, he presumes she must be pregnant.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Nudity and sexual activity
Ideas to discuss with your children
National Treasure is a good action adventure movie, which could appeal to many ages. Although the action keeps moving, adults may find it somewhat simplistic and predictable at times. The take-home message is that good triumphs over evil, and that friendship and courage are valuable qualities. You could discuss these ideas with your children, comparing them with your own family values.