Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade

Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade

****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade opens with a thrilling chase sequence to match the excitement of that classic rolling stone ball scene in Raiders Of The Lost Ark, but with one vital difference - this Indiana Jones is just a boy. In a beautifully composed vignette which fills us in on many of the things which make our hero the man he is today, River Phoenix delivers a rare action performance, reinterpreting Harrison Ford's little gestures and quirks to splendid effect. Though played largely for laughs, it has plenty of emotional impact, helping us to understand how Jones has become so obsessive about his search for ancient relics. It also, crucially, introduces his awkward relationship with his father. This is the relationship upon which the rest of the film will hinge.

As Dr Jones Snr, Sean Connery is clearly having a whale of a time. He enjoys good chemistry with Ford and brings an appropriate sense of authority to the role, though his mannerisms have become such a cliche that it's difficult to believe in him as anything other than himself. Given the relative age differences between the actors, jokes about his relationship with the suspicious Dr Elsa Schneider are funny for the wrong reasons, but the pantomime aspect of this little mini-drama clearly goes down well with younger viewers, as do the elder Jones' bumbling attempts to get by in an area of archaeology quite different from one he's used to.

Copy picture

Joining him in these escapades is the ever-dependable Denholm Elliott, and the film has a certain added piquancy because it showcases what were among Elliot and Phoenix's last performances. Alison Doody holds her own impressively as Elsa, more of a match for Jones than the simpering Willie in Temple Of Doom, but she suffers from occasional moments of weakness which seem more about plot expediency than anything else. Nevertheless, the plot does what it needs to, and it's a rollicking good ride.

If Last Crusade suffers from one major problem, it is that it's simply too twee in its references to the earlier films and in its exploitation of father/son conflicts. When it sets these aside, it's a great contribution to the series, fitting in everything we'd expect from a natural matinee classic. There are sneering villains, mysterious codes, dangerous chases, desperate fights, airships, ancient temples, secret cults, last-minute escapes and awe-inspiring revelations.

Ford is charismatic as ever as the whip-wielding hero, looking eternally hard-done-by but always up for more. The locations, including ancient Petra, are stunning to look at. The pacing is superb, the soundtrack thrilling as ever, and the whole is a near-perfect cinematic adventure. Keeping up with the Joneses was never this much fun.

Reviewed on: 03 Aug 2007
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Indiana Jones battles Nazis for the holy grail - with his father in tow.
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Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: George Lucas, Philip Kaufman, Menno Meyjes, Jeffrey Boam

Starring: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody, Denholm Elliott, River Phoenix, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover, Michael Sheard

Year: 1989

Runtime: 127 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

Festivals:

EIFF 2009

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