Stream or skip?


Stream or skip? +2023

The original National Treasure The film was a hit in 2004 because who wouldn’t want to see Nic Cage overdo it through an Indiana Jones-style treasure hunt adventure? The franchise disappeared after a second film in 2007, but was revived as a series with a significantly younger cast.

opening shot: “2001”. Agent Peter Sadusky (Harvey Keitel) begins recording a lecture about what he knows about Mayan, Aztec and Inca treasures buried for centuries after Cortés and his Spanish troops conquered the palaces of Montezuma.

The essentials: In Mexico City we see a treasure hunter find the Aztec relic that proves the treasure exists. It has the same symbol as the pendant he wears. He comes home and urges his wife and young daughter Jessica to leave as a man named Salazar knows about them. The treasure hunter dies trying to fend off intruders, and Jessica’s mother swears that her daughter will never be a common thief, which she believes is her now-dead husband.

Cut to 21 years later in Baton Rouge. Jess Valenzuela (Lisette Olivera) loves solving mysteries as we see when she and her best friend Tasha Rivers (Zuri Reed) and their roommates/BFFs/romantic partners Owen (Antonio Cipriano) and Ethan (Jordan Rodrigues) date a coming out of apparent situation impossible escape room. Jess wants to work for the FBI’s cryptanalysis division, where all they do is solve mysteries; but she is DACA and must be a citizen to apply.

She is currently working in a warehouse. When her boss wants her to find out who is renting an abandoned apartment, she takes the clues from the name on the bill and some items in the apartment and finds Sadusky, who is said to be suffering from dementia. He sees the pendant around her neck and thinks that she is one of the treasure hunters who looted the Aztec relic. He gives her a note intended for his grandson Liam (Jake Austin Walker). The next day, Sadusky dies and when Jessie and Tasha try to give Liam the note, he wants nothing to do with it.

Meanwhile, wealthy treasure looter Billie Pearce (Catherine Zeta-Jones) wants what Sadusky has and has two of her thugs pretend to be FBI agents and go to the storage unit. They threaten Jess with deportation, but she knows they’re not FBI because their badges are signed by President Biden and not the current Treasury Secretary. She eventually finds out that the picture in the envelope wasn’t just a picture for Liam, but a clue, one that involves a Masonic temple in town and a really good hiding place.

National Treasure: Edge of History
Photo: Disney+

What shows will it remind you of? National Treasure: Edge of History is an extension of National Treasure Film franchise, about Keitel’s character and a later appearance by Justin Bartha as Riley Poole. But it also has a little something Outer Banks mixed, given the age of Jess’ character.

Our opinion: Marianne and Cormac Wibberley, executive producers of the National Treasure Film series starring Jim Kouf, come back as showrunner for National Treasure: Edge of History. It certainly has the same feel as the two films the series is based on, it just doesn’t involve Nic Cage, Sean Bean and co. It revolves around Jess and her friends, who are all grown up but much younger than what we saw in the original films.

And that’s our problem with the show. So we have these adults who haven’t grown up yet and are still in relationship dramas and “will-they-won’t” mishegas that usually happen when you’re in your early 20s and still sorting things out in life. Yes, there are more veteran characters involved, especially those played by Bartha and Zeta-Jones. But with the aging of the main treasure hunter and most of the supporting characters, a franchise already geared towards family viewing loses the small advantage it originally had.

edge of history probably won’t go much deeper than letting Jess find the lost treasure from Montezuma’s palaces with the help of her friends. But the young dynamic really makes the show look like teenagers are interested in watching but become downright boring for adults. There aren’t enough veterans like Keitel or CZJ to make up for the fact that we’re seeing characters with little life experience and not much charisma. For goodness sake, Billie captures Oren with a sneaker drop so she can blackmail Jess for the Aztec Cube. A shoe drop!

In the first episode, it also feels like Jess isn’t necessarily solving puzzles, but rather taking advantage of a whole bunch of favorable coincidences and random Google searches. We see shortcuts like this all the time — The da Vinci Code is full of it – but we’ve seen very little of the puzzle-solving ability that will carry Jess through this adventure.

What age group is this for?: The show has some violence and people dying even when it’s off screen. We anticipate that children aged 8 and over will enjoy it.

farewell shot: A prisoner in Mexico City asks a man named Salazar if he will try to escape again. A bearded man in the next cell draws a symbol on a piece of paper and pins it on the wall. It’s the symbol on Jess’ pendant that her father gave her.

sleeping star: We give the Zeta-Jones because she brings just the right amount of sliminess, sophistication, and irony to Billie’s character.

Most pilot line: “Maybe now I’ll get my back rent from his estate,” says Jess’ unsympathetic boss after they learn that Sadusky has died.

Our appeal: SKIP IT. National Treasure: Edge of History really feels like a teenybopper version of the already family-friendly one National Treasure franchise, and the lack of a compelling cast of main characters isn’t helped by a treasure hunt revealed more by luck than skill.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and technology, but he doesn’t fool himself: He’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Salon,, VanityFair.comFast Company and elsewhere.

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