Our last review in the Indiana Jones week is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Like our review of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, this review was originally posted HERE as part of Movie Rob’s Genre Grandeur showcasing Adventure Films.
Raiders of the Lost Ark may be a classic but Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade will always be my first Indiana Jones movie (for the longest time I thought this was actually the first film to be released). When reviewing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, I mentioned how uninspired substitutions sucked the fun out of the film. Now in its third installment, the franchise shifts again to much better results.
After detouring into a world of Thuggee cults, The Last Crusade again features Nazis as the primary antagonists. This time they’re after the Holy Grail and (as in Raiders) they use Indy to find it for them. That element was missing in Temple of Doom. In both Raiders and The Last Crusade the villains (which happen to be Nazis both times) force Indy to lead their search. This adds more drama and tension as in both cases Indy wants to find the treasure himself but doesn’t want it to fall into the wrong hands. This is an old format still used by modern adventure movies like National Treasure. In Temple of Doom, Indy instead tries to retrieve the sought after object from the cult who already possesses it. The film feels less adventurous that way but Last Crusade brings back the thrill of the chase and with it more adventure.
In a great twist, the film starts with a young Indy fighting to keep a golden cross away from object-poachers. The flashback establishes much of Indy’s backstory (and appearance, showing how he got his chin scar, why he hates snakes, and presumably when he first picked up his signature whip) and helps lead us into the introduction of Indy’s father Harry Jones, played perfectly by Sean Connery. Between Harrison Ford’s one liners (like the “no ticket” line) and the bantering between Ford and Connery, Last Crusade keeps things light even with all the Nazis running around. Raiders debuted as a classic in 1981. Last Crusade may never reach the same levels of success but it is still a worthy sequel which manages to establish its own identity.