National Treasure: Edge of History takes a slower burn to continue two movies carried by a charismatic Nicolas Cage. It has all the bells and whistles of a treasure hunt meets political thriller. The series even brings in a few legacy characters to preserve the continuity, but Edge of History’s first two episodes are enough to turn viewers off thanks to a lower production value and a show that doesn’t take itself seriously by any measure.
Without spoilers, Edge of History continues the films through rare and tacky references. American dreamer and everyday 20-year-old Jess Valenzuela (Lisette Olivera) is an aspiring FBI cryptologist who quickly gets spurred into her family’s quest for treasure. It’s a plot that starts strong with an opening that channels the life or death stakes from National Treasure, but the show goes flat and fails to keep that excitement across its first two episodes. The rest of its new story feels irrelevant while wasting its richer source material. The series doesn’t go out of its way to pick up on National Treasure and the sequel Book of Secrets.
Jess is supported by her equally young and preppy crew, made of Tasha (Zuri Reed), Oren (Antonio Cipriano) and Ethan (Jordan Rodriguez). The main cast fill the role of being National Treasure‘s next generation of explorers. but apart from Jess’ intuition and Tasha’s tech-savvy skills, there isn’t much else that brings out the adventure in them. Viewers won’t be pulled in by a heist, one homicidal Sean Bean and real family stakes that can impact American history. None of these elements that shaped National Treasure‘s identity are present, much to the disappointment of fans who’ve waited for a good follow-up.
“Edge of History carries the certain charm of a Saturday morning cartoon filler and the same dialogue heft as a typical Power Rangers episode.”
In fact, Edge of History gets lost in its own B-list teen drama direction that can interrupt the adventure with some off-putting noise. Oren plays the archetype of a Sneakerhead with plenty of quips in the face of danger. Ethan is the charming male lead who deters Jess from uncovering her family’s clues to find Spanish gold. It’s a show that clearly spaces out its adventure for later episodes and establishes characters viewers have little reason to care about. The supporting cast is used somewhat conveniently to the plot when Jess is out on her adventures.
Edge of History does a decent job at blending American history through Jess’ roots. I’ll give the series credit for drawing deeper into Spanish presence in America and representing their significance of building the country. Viewers can find a great hook in Jess’ determination to pick up on her family’s trail. Every episode does feature some puzzle solving moments. The show entertains a bit by showing some crafty puzzle solving moments and National Treasure‘s ability to reveal clues in plain sight.
“Edge of History gets lost in its own B-list teen drama direction that can interrupt the adventure with some off-putting noise.”
Former FBI agent and Freemason Peter Sandusky (Harvey Keitel) returns to spur Jess into finding the treasure, though viewers will be rolling their eyes over the handling of this National Treasure guest: a mysterious evil sect run by crypto queen and black market antiquities dealer Billie Pearce (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The show tries to draw its danger and action through Jess’ confrontations with Billie, but the main cast are all adorned with plot armour and a few millennial Hamilton references that somehow work better than a switchblade. Edge of History is ultimately more of a children’s affair compared to the two National Treasure films and lacks any semblance of tension.
Unfortunately, much of Jess’ story arc falls flat with some of TV’s cheesiest lines and robotic delivery between characters. The first two episodes occasionally bring out some references and charm from campy characters. But the live action Disney Channel touch is more alive than ever in the worst ways. Edge of History carries the certain charm of a Saturday morning cartoon filler and the same dialogue heft as a typical Power Rangers episode. You’re only really there for the action, exploration and stakes that make National Treasure stand out, however, viewers will instead be checking the progress bar a few times if they’re planning on watching the series in one go.
National Treasure: Edge of History belongs in the shadow of its two original movies. Viewers are better off using the show’s relatively bloated time to bask in Nicolas Cage’s presence and adults-only affair. The next generation of treasure hunters do little to bring out any sort of political, historic thrills in a show that veers closer to Disney teen drama territory. It’s a disappointing cop-out for fans of National Treasure who wanted the same danger, charm and excitement as the films.