Cert: 12 Runtime: 127 mins Director: Steven Spielberg Cast: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody, River Phoenix, Denholm Elliott, Michael Byrne and John Rhys-Davies
Archaeology is the search for fact… not truth. If it’s truth you’re looking for, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is right down the hall
Re-watching Indiana Jones has been one of the best plans I’ve had this summer. So minus Crystal Skull I have reviewed every movie, as a kid I loved Indiana Jones! Heck I even wanted to be an archaeologist at one point. So lets go back to 1989. After Adolf Hitler & the Nazis fail to obtain the Ark of the Covenant, Hitler orders the SS and Wehrmacht to go after the cup of Christ – the Holy Grail. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is pressed back into action after a mining magnate’s lead researcher disappears mysteriously. The lead researcher is none other than Indy’s dad, the feisty Professor Henry Jones (Sean Connery). Meeting up with Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody) in Venice, Indiana & Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) discover that a 2nd marker that reveals the location of the grail is buried in the catacombs of a converted church. Escaping from rats, fire, gunmen, and a ship’s propeller, Indy discovers that his dad is being held in a castle on the German border with Austria. When he & Dr. Schneider reach the castle Indy locates his father, but Elsa proves herself a turncoat, and even worse – so is the mining magnate, Walter Donovan! After Indy & Henry escape the castle, they head to Berlin to get the map & Henry’s diary that provides critical information to those who seek the Grail. Marcus, however, is kidnapped by Nazis in Iskenderun, and Indy & Henry meet up with Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) and start their own journey toward the ‘Canyon of the Crescent Moon’. They run into Donovan & the Nazis, and a huge fight ensues. Will Indy obtain the Grail and gain eternal life for himself & his father, giving the world a future of light, or will Adolf Hitler & the Nazis triumph and send the armies of darkness marching all over the world?
The script, by Jeffrey Boam, takes a few cues from Raiders of the Lost Ark, but actually improves upon that story by paying more attention to characterization. The delightful opening scene; which details how young Indy got his scar, whip, hat, and fear of snakes; makes for a better prequel than Temple of Doom.The story is engrossing because there’s a lot of fun clues offered towards the location of the Grail and, thus, there’s a lot of engaging little discoveries (love the “X marks the spot” scene). I’m quite certain, like with Raiders of the Lost Ark, the plot has a few holes, but they’re fairly hard to notice, and I’ve seen this movie quite a few times, but maybe it’s just my enjoyment of the film clouding that up. Either way, it speaks volumes in favor of Spielberg’s direction and the performances.Given that action and adventure is the series’ selling point, you can expect the thrills and wondrous delight of discovery delivered in spades. The action scenes are terrific (and matched well with John Williams’ rousing, memorable score, also the best of the trilogy), the best being a fantastic ten-minute chase sequence on board (and in) a tank, possibly the best action sequence of Spielberg’s career. I also loved the motorcycle chase and the Zeppelin setpiece, where the heroes go about dispatching of two enemy fighters in unexpected, but quite hilarious, fashion. The climax, complete with frightening booby traps, is a suspenseful venture into the unknown.The Last Crusade is far more humor-oriented than its predecessors, but part of the movie’s effectiveness is that it’s able to deliver belly laughs without defusing the tension during the action sequences.
Some of the jokes are just brilliant, including one with Indy armed with a Luger in confrontation with a trio of Nazis on board a tank that’s even funnier than the swordsman scene in Raiders (well, to me, at least).The supporting cast is all-around superb; John Rhys-Davies is back as Sallah, wonderful as ever and displaying a bit more enthusiasm searching for the Grail than he did digging up the Ark of the Covenant. The late Denholm Elliot also returns as Marcus Brody, the most lovable goof of a museum curator. Alison Doody is interesting as Elsa, the blonde historian whom Indy falls for; a twist involving her character and her actions towards the climax make her not as one-dimensional as she may initially appear. Julian Glover is the best of the main Indy villains, he’s far more menacing than Paul Freeman’s Belloq and less over-the-top but equally enjoyable as Amrish Pruri’s Mola Ram. I also enjoyed Michael Byrne’s performance as the Jones hating Colonel Vogel, who relishes in torturing Indy and his father. When it comes to pure delightfully nasty villainy, Byrne is even more fun to watch than Glover.Harrison Ford delivers his best Indy performance (maybe even his best performance, period) in this particular adventure. With the addition of Connery as his father, it reveals a personal side to Indy we haven’t seen before. It’s his rapport with Connery that strikes that spark that separates this from 99% of the genre. They craft an uncannily touching, funny, and genuine bond. That, coupled with the superb action and thrills, solidifies The Last Crusade as the pinnacle of high adventure summer entertainment.