Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Reviews
Though not as thematically or deeply entertaining as its predecessors, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade still has gleefully sporadic action and excellent acting to look forward to.
The film has the all of the excellent action sequences, creepy-crawly moments, mysticism, exotic locales, and booby traps that one expects from an Indiana Jones movie. It's a nonstop pursuit: in this case, vehicular chases are the norm, with all sorts of stunt-filled highlights involving trains, boats, motorcycles, planes, and tanks.
What truly sets it apart is a script that, beginning with the intro of Sean Connery's character 45 minutes in, is loaded with almost nonstop comedy, with a finale is both truly touching and thrilling. What's more, it's not just comedy for the sake of laughter; the humor establishes the characters' relationships and moves the story along. While both Harrison Ford and Sean Connery are absolutely iconic actors, neither of them has ever, before or since, displayed such comedic prowess, and it's obvious that both of them are having the time of their life.
One of the neat things about the Indiana Jones movies is that each film reveals something new about our hero's character. There are different virtues and flaws on display each time. Raiders gave us a taste of his romantic side, his academic mind, and his tenacity against obstacles. Temple of Doom highlights his capacity for both greed and compassion, as well as a paternal side in his relationship with Short Round. Last Crusade, without laying it on too thick, shows a man who is still aching from a lonely childhood.
This larger-than-life hero, who smirks at Nazis and courageously challenges a tank while on horseback (armed with just a pistol!), is vulnerable only to his father's disapproval. He resents the man who "taught him self-reliance" but discovers that he respects and loves that man as well. Of course the movie handles it in a way that is more subtle and less sappy than I've made it sound, but it's there nonetheless. Connery, on the other hand, plays gloriously against type as a bookish old man, unaccustomed to danger, but still with hidden strength. He and Ford have a glowing chemistry here, and it's their interplay that elevates this from "very good" to "truly great." * * * * 1/2 (out of five).
The plot itself, Indy is once again fighting the Nazis in a race to reach the Holy Grail, is a lot more straightforward and even feels more intimate for Indy (it mainly revolves around his father after all). There's a touching father-son bond throughout that blends so well against the greater scale story.
One of this film's biggest attributes is the supporting characters. Unlike Temple's characters who mainly ranged from annoying to forgettable (save Amrish Puri as Mola Ram), Crusade brings us a welcome mix of old friends (the always wonderful John Rhys-Davies as Sallah and Denholm Elliott as Marcus Brody) and new (Sean Connery as Henry Sr. and Alison Doody as Elsa Schneider). Whereas Willie Scott and Short Round were such extreme character types that it was difficult to sympathize with them, Elsa and Henry are far more toned down but not without likable personalities.
If I had any complaints, the opening with young Indy feels a bit rushed and ridiculous, even for this sort of movie. The fact that all of his personality quirks and physical scars came about in the span of ten minutes is pretty hard to believe.
Still, that's a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things. The Last Crusade is an excellent adventure film and a fond farewell to the Indiana Jones franchise. Well, at least for now.