Over at The AV Club, Ryan Vlastelica wrote about National Treasure and how the films are ideologically distinct from the commercial action shtick we've grown familiar with. I've defended the National Treasure films since their releases, and he does a good job explaining their appeal as "light-hearted" action that's in opposition to the brooding cynicism and irony that have become the norm in an industry that takes itself too seriously:
But even outside the ideology, the National Treasures are refreshing just as action movies. There's a lightness to them that's sorely missed in an age when unrelenting darkness is the default; if anything, their jokes and banter are so foregrounds that the movies are more easily classified as comedies with action than the other way around. While it would be too much to say that they're parodies of globetrotting yarns, they poke fun at their absurdity--again, something that's more than welcome when so many inane stories insist on their seriousness.