Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

the last crusade IMDb

When Temple of Doom was criticized for being too dark, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas took that on board and went back to what worked so well in the first film. Sending Indiana Jones on a globetrotting adventure for a mythical religious artifact, and trying to stop the Nazis from getting there first.

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) has been hired to find the Holy Grail because his father (Sean Connery) has gone missing while he sought out the same object. Indy accepts the job so he can find out what happened to his father, and if he can also find the Holy Grail, then that will be a bonus. Eventually he uncovers a plot by the Nazis to find the Grail and use it to achieve eternal life for Hitler and his goons. Indy rescues his father from their clutches and together, father and son must find the Grail before the Nazis can, if they don’t kill each other first.

This is a great film. Adding Sean Connery as Ford’s father was such a great decision. The two have terrific chemistry and work so well together. I loved the different dynamic between the two. Having the Holy Grail be Connery’s life’s work was an interesting way to bring him into the series. I really liked the fact that this was something Indy was jealous of. His father had often neglected him as he studied the Grail, and it was such a good idea to have Indy need to overcome this in order to work with his dad and find the Holy Grail.

The third Indiana Jones is a fun adventure, just like the previous two films. Adding Connery to the cast was a masterstroke. He is a welcome addition to the series and works so well with Harrison Ford. I also enjoyed the opening sequence that has River Phoenix playing a younger Indy hoping to return a stolen artefact to a museum.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a thrilling adventure, and a worthy addition to one of the best movie series ever made.

Rating: A

Indy’s back to his old tricks– kicking Nazi butt and keeping precious archeological treasures out of their hands. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade could so easily have been a carbon copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark, or a bit of a miss like Temple of Doom. However, not only does this film manage to return the series to form, but it also establishes more of Indiana’s backstory in a fun way.

This is the film where we finally get to meet Indiana Jones’ father, and who better to play the Jones Family patriarch than James Bond himself, Sean Connery. It’s such perfect casting. Ford is famous for playing a womanizing archeologist, and Connery for playing a womanizing spy. Both franchises have popularized professions that few people outside of the field really understand (though from what I’ve read, the Indiana Jones series gets a lot right). Both actors have gained a reputation for being “grumpy old men” in real life. What a match made in heaven!

In all seriousness, Connery is an excellent addition to this franchise. I really can’t imagine anyone else in the role, even though Connery is playing against the Bond type that made him famous. Henry Jones, Sr is doddering, absent minded, and accident prone. He’s the perfect comic relief, balancing the (mostly) confident bravado displayed by his son. Ford and Connery shine when they share the screen. It’s a shame Connery has retired from acting, because I would have loved for him to return in the fourth installment, if only for one scene.

Last Crusade also works in one of my favorite plot devices: solving puzzles and riddles. Indy is sent on a treasure hunt to find his father and the Holy Grail, a journey that requires him to use his wits and intelligence to enter a booby trapped temple. It’s the kind of campy plot that made Raiders of the Lost Ark so fun, and an element that was missing from Temple of Doom. It also gets my nerd juices flowing, much as the riddle solving plot of Die Hard 3 did, because what’s better than smart people calmly using their intelligence to save the day? (Nothing. Nothing is better.)

The only backstory bit that I find a bit much is the opening sequence showing a 13 year old Indiana (played by River Phoenix). My only issue with this comic fight is that it seems to try too hard to provide an origin for all of Indy’s quirks. We’re given an explanation for his chin scar, his fear of snakes, his interest in recovering ancient artifacts, and his fashion choices within the first ten minutes. While I usually love delving into the pasts of fictional character’s, this time it feels like too much all at once. I’d have preferred if only one or two elements of Indy’s past were explored in this sequence. I guess I just like my men a tad mysterious?

Rating: A-

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