Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- Andrew Burnet
- 30 June 1989
In case you hadn't heard, Indy is back in action, this time with his old man (Connery) in tow. This (so they tell us) is the last instalment of his adventures, and therefore concerns the Ultimate Quest—the hunt for the Holy Grail.
The ever-nasty Nazis are naturally after it as well, and follow hot on Indy's heels, which of course necessitates the kind of oh-what-the-hell violence we've come to expect from the archaeological adventurer. The obligatory total immersion in snakes puts in an early appearance (during a prologue in which the earnest, youthful Jones is played by River Phoenix) and guess what—there's a spot of The Other, in the shape of delectably devious Doody. Together, our heroes escape the inescapable, achieve the unachievable and generally affirm Truth, Justice and The American Dream.
Okay, so I'm being cynical. The Last Crusade is (not a bit surprisingly) a very well made movie, with stunning design and photography, spectacular effects, a racy script and some great performances. But the fact is we've seen most of it before. Connery is of course a major bonus, turning in a warm, witty and touching performance as Dr Henry Jones, but the scrapes and japes are all getting just a wee bit tired.
Hollywood trends dating back well over a decade prove that predictability is a positive advantage in the box office (witness for example the imminent release of Police Academy 6…) but I think we could have expected a few more coups this time round from Spielberg, Ford and co.
Perhaps more worrying is the quasi-Christian moralising which accompanies a plot held together by brutal action sequences. The implication of the final scenes is that it's Jones' piety which saves the day, and that's really a bit much for a character whose charm is largely to do with rough, tough irreverence.
I'm not trying to put anyone off this movie. Like its predecessors, it's a grand romp and a lot of fun. But its moral stance is a bit uneasy, and I think two Indiana Jones films were probably enough.