Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) / Action-Adventure
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, sensuality, and some disturbing images
Running Time: 127 min.
Cast: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody, Denholm Elliott, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover, River Phoenix
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Jeffrey Boam
Review published February 8, 2003
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the third, and for many years it would be considered the last installment of the successful action-adventure trilogy, and while it doesn't make the dynamic impact that Raiders of the Lost Ark did upon its debut, you really couldn't ask for a more crowd-pleasing potential final chapter.
Last Crusade begins with River Phoenix (Stand by Me, Explorers) playing a young Indiana Jones, even at a young age, having a thirst for adventure. His father (Connery, The Untouchables) is obsessed with tracking down any information he can get regarding the whereabouts of the legendary Holy Grail, the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper, and as a result, little attention is paid to young Indy. Flash forward to 1938, where Indiana (Harrison Ford, Working Girl) finds that his father has been kidnapped by the Nazis, who are also looking for the Holy Grail, and the legendary powers of immortality it may hold. Indy and his dad have never quite seen eye to eye, which makes Indiana's subsequent rescue attempts all the more interesting, as he tries to impress a man who only lives for the Grail.
Spielberg corrects many of the missteps he had made in Temple of Doom, by going in completely the opposite direction, making the adventure about the characters and not the thrills and chills every few minutes. For the most part, Last Crusade is a much lighter, frothier affair, with even the more menacing parts marked with bits of genuine levity. Jeffrey Boam (Inner Space, Funny Farm) provides the warmly funny screenplay, and even the cinematography, which ran dark and mysterious in the previous adventures, appears vibrant and colorful. It's a kinder, gentler Indiana Jones.
Sean Connery is a perfect addition to the series, playing the part of the unimpressed father beautifully. Just when you think you've seen all there is to see as far as the character of Indiana Jones, out comes another facet, and Harrison Ford does a very commendable job in balancing the Indy we all know from the previous film and the boyish vulnerability whenever he is around his father. Two of the biggest legends in the world of action flick together on one bill is worth the price of admission at any price.
There is a sense of welcome immaturity to the entire production, letting you know that it's all in the name of fun. It's a loving send off to one of the most beloved characters in movie history, and even if the humor sometimes gets into the realm of corniness, we like the characters so much, even those moments will make us smile. For every Indiana Jones fan, it's must-see viewing, literally watching Indy and friends ride off to the sunset together.
-- The series would prove its immortality 19 years later withIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
©2003, 2008 Vince Leo