"We're more like treasure protectors."
In the confusing modern mythology that is Nicholas Cage, his 2004 Disney adventure film National Treasure is both a meme and a genuine gem of cinematic escapism. And it's leaving one of the biggest streaming services very, very soon.
With the coronavirus pandemic forcing people worldwide to stay indoors, now is the perfect time for you and even your friends (via one of those fancy watch party plug-ins) to revisit a millennial favorite.
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On Thursday, Netflix released its monthly list of new titles coming to the service in April, as well as titles that will cease streaming (until perhaps next month). While April will see an influx of underrated, classic, and/or must-see movies such as Taxi Driver, The Green Hornet, The Social Network, Mortal Kombat, Road to Perdition, and the return of the Matrix trilogy, films like Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Space Jam, GoodFellas, and Blade Runner: The Final Cut will cease to stream by April 30. (Weirdly, The Hangover will stream for exactly one month, starting on April 1 and leaving April 30.)
And one big movie that will cease to stream on Netflix at the end of April? National Treasure, the gleefully dumb but wonderfully entertaining heist caper in which Nicholas Cage must steal the Declaration of Independence.
While the movie will begin streaming on Disney+ that very same day, its Netflix expiration is an excellent excuse to include the movie into your quarantine binge rotation — especially if you don't feel like paying for yet another streaming service.
For the unlucky few who haven't seen National Treasure but know it through memes: National Treasure, directed by Jon Turteltaub, is the story of Benjamin Franklin Gates, a treasure hunter and cryptologist who seeks to steal the Declaration of Independence — which contains an invisible map to a hidden treasure — in order to keep it away from his former friend and now rival (Sean Bean) who seeks the treasure for himself.
Watching the movie now in 2020, it's an incredible thing to just see it exist. It's hard to remember now, but in the 1990s Nicholas Cage was one of the industry's biggest stars, with action movies like The Rock (1996) and Face/Off (1997) and dramas like City of Angels (1998) and Adaptation (2002). His final stint into mainstream action was Marvel's Ghost Rider (2007), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011), and The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010). After nearly a decade of what looked like a downward spiral, recent offbeat indies like Mandy (2018) and Color Out of Space (2019) are resuscitating Cage into more than just an actor but a weirdly awesome brand.
National Treasure arrived in the middle of Cage's highs of the '90s and lows in the 2010s. The film, a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced family blockbuster, allows Cage to be Cage; as Ben, Cage is a smarmy know-it-all without the roguish panache that Harrison Ford brought to Indiana Jones. But he has all the confidence that makes you want to keep watching. He's a less likable Robert Langdon. You want to punch him in the face for making you feel dumb, but you can't because only he can get you out of dodge.
In this current era when blockbusters must be adapted from a comic book and plot Easter eggs for sequels, National Treasure was a throwback pulp adventure film with a wonky, carefree premise that sort of taught basic American history. I recall my grade school teachers rolling their eyes at the movie before admitting, "Well, it's got you kids caring."
The film will hit Disney+ on the very same day it exits Netflix. So if you've got subscriptions to both, you need not worry about racing to finish the movie before April 30. But with all of us stuck indoors with nothing better to do, it's an ideal scenario to revisit this old favorite. Find out why exactly National Treasure is deserving of its title.
National Treasure is streaming on Netflix until April 30.