Those two ill-fated movies didn't have half the talent behind Last Crusade. Steven Spielberg is back behind the camera, with executive producer George Lucas co-creating the nifty story, which has Indiana Jones recruited by a wealthy collector (Julian Glover) to find nothing less than the Holy Grail. Along the way, Indy encounters a well-armed band of religious zealots, Nazis, and his fussy father (Sean Connery), the missing leader of the Grail project who doesn't embrace his son's sense of adventure.
One of the movie's great pleasures is watching Connery and Ford, two of the coolest people alive, onscreen together. Part of the credit must go to screenwriter Jeffrey Boam, who doesn't try to have the characters outdo each other in the rogue charm department. Connery plays the stick in the mud to the hilt, looking put-upon and carrying around his leather briefcase and umbrella everywhere.
At the same time, Connery is such a virile, confident presence that he's instantly likable. He's the anti-Kate Capshaw, the one reason why I can't watch Temple of Doom past the awesome opening sequence. Ford is terrific as always, and part of the fun is watching his usual unflappable character getting riled by his father's comments and unfamiliarity. It's the equivalent of watching a teenage girl and her dad at the mall and twice as funny.
It helps that Boam gives the two acting giants plenty of snappy banter, which they deliver with precise timing. The supporting cast also fares very well, especially two late actors -- River Phoenix (star of the dazzling and informative opening scene featuring a teenage Indy discovering his whip and fedora) and Denholm Elliot who shines as Indy's erudite, but clueless colleague, Marcus. The film's funniest sequence comes when Indy tells the Nazis that they'll never find Marcus, that "he'll blend in; you'll never see him again." Cut to a befuddled looking Elliot, walking around a crowded foreign, train station shouting, "Does anyone here speak English... or Ancient Greek?"
Spielberg's sense of timing in the movie is impeccable. You get the feeling watching The Last Crusade that there are no wasted or repetitive shots. And no one films action scenes like he does. The movie is a testament to that -- no excessive jump cuts or fancy editing (thanks in part to Lucas), and no cramped framing. If you're spending millions on a movie, the audience should see the spectacle. It's a lesson that has served him well for close to 30 years and will entertain audiences for countless more.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as well as the series' other two outings, is why people go to the movies and keep going back: they want to believe in a world outside of their own. In thirty years, kids will still be arguing over who gets to play Indy and adults will have to fight off the almost unbearable urge to join in the fun. I'll be among them.
Where there's Jones, there's fire.
Run time: 127 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 24th May 1989
Box Office Worldwide: $474.2M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm
Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 60 Rotten: 8
IMDB: 8.3 / 10
Director: Steven Spielberg
Producer: Robert Watts
Screenwriter: Jeffrey Boam
Starring: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Sean Connery as Professor Henry Jones, Denholm Elliott as Dr. Marcus Brody, Alison Doody as Dr. Elsa Schneider, John Rhys-Davies as Sallah, Julian Glover as Walter Donovan, River Phoenix as Indiana Jones (young), Michael Byrne as Vogel, Kevork Malikyan as Kazim, Robert Eddison as Grail Knight, Richard Young as Fedora, Alexei Sayle as Sultan, Paul Maxwell as Panama Hat, Isla Blair as Mrs. Donovan, Vernon Dobtcheff as Butler
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