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Review: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) 

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Premise: Indiana Jones must rescue his father (Sean Connery) from the Nazis and then race them to the Holy Grail.

What Works: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the most satisfying of the sequels to Raiders of the Lost Ark, primarily because of the relationship between Indiana and Henry, his father. Like the three men in the boat in Jaws, there is no beating the father-son relationship in Last Crusade and it comes to define the movie. The casting here is perfect with Sean Connery as Jones senior, and together Connery and Ford play father and son like the odd couple, mining lots of laughs but also using their conflicts to explore the character of Indiana Jones and how he came to be the man he is. Last Crusade also has the most interesting love interest of the series as Indiana finds himself in a complicated relationship with archeologist Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody). As an archeologist with compromised ethics, she is similar to Belloq (Paul Freeman) of Raiders of the Lost Ark and her love-hate relationship with Indiana gives their scenes a lot of tension. Between the father-son relationship, the love interest, and the film’s step into matters of faith, something avoided by all other entries in the series, Last Crusade has much more substance to it than any other Indiana Jones film. This substance informs the action sequences, putting much more at stake as Indiana develops and mends his relationship with his father while trying to stop the Nazis. The ending is the strongest in the series, with Indiana forced to make choices that define him as a character and bring his character to a new place spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually.

What Doesn’t: Last Crusade’s only viable weaknesses are a middle portion that gets bogged down in places and the lack of a coherent villain. Julian Glover is not particularly menacing as an unscrupulous artifact collector and Michael Byrne does not get enough screen time as a Nazi colonel.

DVD Extras: Photos, featurettes, storyboards.

Bottom Line: Although it does not have the manic energy of Temple of Doom or the novelty of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade does have some of the best scenes in the series and one of the most memorable father-son relationships on film. 

Episode: #192 (June 1, 2008)