National Treasure had proved to be one of the more successful Nicolas Cage franchise films. Cage played Benjamin Franklin Gates, a treasure hunter who specializes in those unearthing secrets of American culture that lead to great fortune. Sometimes it involves finding a secret map on the Declaration of Independence and sometimes it involves looking for clues in the diary of John Wilkes Booth. Both films feature just as much intrigue of history as they do exciting action and adventure as Cage and company probe further. It was an uproarious mixture of American history and a mystery-adventure rolled into one of Disney’s more enticing ventures during the era of Pirates of the Carribean.
Of course, National Treasure isn’t the only adventure film on the block that comes bundled with historical mystery and thrilling sequences (though it was one of the few to play with American lore). In fact, the film franchise owes a lot to previous pictures of a similar nature. So if you’re pining for a third National Treasure film that may never come, consider the following ten movies that can replicate that similar sense of excitement with tracking down clues and uncovering lost treasures.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
How could this film not be on the list? National Treasure owes a lot of its thrilling mixture of mystery and action to the great adventurer of Indiana Jones. And what better film to recommend than the one that started it all? Developed by director Steven Spielberg as an homage to the classic adventure movie serials, Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones, a professor who also finds himself venturing around the globe uncovering artifacts that belong in museums. But he finds himself tangling with the Nazis when tasked with retrieving the mysterious and supernatural artifact of The Ark of the Covenant, a container with powers that could be used for evil. It’s a film packed with exciting action sequences as well as enticing intrigue the more pieces of the puzzle Indie puts together. Indiana Jones became such a cinema icon that Ford would star in three more Jones adventures of Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade, and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Based on the hit video game franchise, Lara Croft is one of the most skilled explorers in the world, able to handle any threat and take on dangerous missions. She finds herself trying to discover the hidden mystery behind the mysterious artifact known as the Triangle. It’s a secret that seeks to be solved by the Illuminati who believe the artifact will activate during the time of planetary alignment. Directed by Simon West (Con Air), all the hallmarks of such a tomb-raiding adventure are present. This includes globe-trotting to exotic locations, exciting bouts with henchmen, and remarkable discoveries when venturing into lost enclosures. Angelina Jolie stars as Lara with supporting roles played by Jon Voight, Iain Glen, Noah Taylor, and Daniel Craig. Jolie would also play the character one more time in the sequel, The Cradle of Life.
The Castle of Cagliostro
Based on the iconic comic book series, gentleman thief Lupin the Third finds himself trying to uncover the mystery behind a counterfeiting scheme. His trail leads him to the small country of Cagliostro, where the secrets of the operation may lie in a well-guarded castle. But Lupin also finds himself trying to rescue the innocent Clarise from being forcibly married to the evil and greedy Count Cagliostro. Though most of Lupin’s adventures are heavy with sex and violence, this is the character’s most tame for being directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away). The thrilling sequences and slapstick moments are backed up by the familiar Lupin cast which includes the gunman Jigen, the swordsman Goemon, the spy Fujiko, and the rival Interpol agent Zenigata.
The Adventures of Tintin
Based on the classic comic book characters created by Herge, this period-piece adventure follows the exploits of Tintin, a journalist who loves solving mysteries with his intelligent dog Snowy. When Tintin happens upon a remarkable miniature ship model, he finds that the model is being sought by dangerous men who will do anything to acquire it. But it’s not just the ship they want as Tintin soon finds himself thrown into an adventure of historical mystery, trying to solve the mystery of the unicorn. Directed by Steven Spielberg (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Hook) as his first animated feature, the film features stunning computer animation that captures Herge’s style while also boasting some of the most robust motion-tracking of the era. The voice cast includes Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, and Daniel Craig.
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
The classic literary character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gets a bit of a grittier revival in this fast-paced picture directed by Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels). Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is still a recluse detective of 1890s London, toiling away with inventions, drugs, and always noticing the little details. Aided by his bitter partner Doctor John Watson (Jude Law), the duo must uncover a secret cult of serial killers led by the villainous Lord Henry Blackwood (Mark Strong). While packed with more action than any other interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, this version was revered enough to garner a sequel (Game of Shadows) in which Holmes squares off against his toughest rival of Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris).
For those who would dig a revisionist take on the Sherlock Holmes stories, Enola Holmes may be right up your alley. Based on the novels by Nancy Springer, this story focuses less on Sherlock and more on his younger sibling of Enola. She may not be as revered as Sherlock but she’s just as capable when it comes to solving tough cases of mystery, thrills, and intrigue. Directed by Harry Bradbeer (Fleabag, Killing Eve) with a screenplay by Jack Thorne (The Aeronauts), this period-piece mystery stars Millie Bobby Brown, Sam Claflin, Henry Cavill Helena, and Bonham Carter.
The Mummy (1999)
We may never see Indiana Jones tangle with a mummy but this action-packed remake of the classic Universal movie monster may satiate that desire. Set in the 1920s, adventurer Rick O’Connell finds himself traveling to Hamunaptra, otherwise known as the City of the Dead. Aided by both a librarian and her brother, they encounter unexpected supernatural surprises as they probe ancient Egyptian ruins. What they didn’t count on was accidentally awakening the cursed high priest of Imhotep from his slumber, bringing a great darkness back into the world. Directed by Stephen Sommers (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), this exciting adventure of supernatural discoveries stars the likes of Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Jonathan Hyde, and Kevin J. O’Connor.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Taking place after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers, Steve Rogers finds himself trying to adjust to a 21st-century America. Though he finds that much has changed in terms of superheroes and supervillains, the sinister organization of Hydra still remains, lying in wait for their moment to strike. As Steve digs into the intrigue of Hydra’s history, he discovers that there’s a level of corruption going on within the very American government that could lead to its downfall. But tackling Hydra is all the harder when Steve finds himself pitted against his old ally of Bucky Barnes, revived and brainwashed into becoming the lethal assassin of The Winter Soldier. Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War), this fast-paced and thrilling action picture of political intrigue stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, and Samuel L. Jackson.
The Da Vinci Code
Based on the best-selling novel by Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code follows the investigations of religious professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks). He finds himself entangled with a murder trial where he is consider a suspect in the killing of a Louvre curator. But what started as a murder case soon transforms into an adventure of seeking out the Holy Grail of Christian lore. Directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13), this mystery thriller based on Christianity became such a hit at the box office that it went onto the sequels of Angels & Demons (2009) and Inferno (2016).
Director Martin Scorsese displays his love for classic cinema in this youthful adventure of an orphan discovering the wonders of movies. Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is a kid who lives a lonely life at a train station in 1930s Paris, trying to keep himself concealed from the watchful eyes of Inspector Gustave Dasté (Sacha Baron Cohen). The only part of his father left behind is a mysterious robotic machine. While trying to uncover the secrets of the machine, Hugo also stumbles upon the wonderment of the films by director Georges Méliès (Ben Kingley). As one of Scorsese’s first 3D films, Hugo features some stunning throwback effects and a strong supporting cast that includes Chloë Grace Moretz, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, and Jude Law.