Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Written by Nick McCann

98/100

Although “Temple of Doom” scored big money in its day, it also famously sparked outrage over its darker direction and change from the first movie’s formula. Even Steven Spielberg looks back on it with little regard. Like anything else, all it took was a little time before Indiana Jones was ready to saddle up again. This new adventure comes back swinging, strong in both emotion and form.

Indy and his father (Sean Connery) are on the trail of the Holy Grail. After a delightfully charming character origin sequence, the movie sets to recapture the vibe from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and does so remarkably. Jeffrey Boam’s script is high on humor but contains equal amounts of heart and conviction. The pacing is very fast, never getting dull for a second. Once Jones Sr. enters the picture, Spielberg does what he does best and rips your heart right out of the chest cavity (much nicer this time). It doesn’t get more pure than the search for immortality.

That comes from the brilliant performances of Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. Ford brings out something more tender in Indy this time around without sacrificing his capability and strengths. Much of that bounces off from his buddy chemistry with Connery, who’s as classy and professional as ever. He’s everything Indy is but better and wiser. The estranged nature between them as they reconnect over this massive quest makes for the film’s most engaging moments and the action even more fun.

John Rhys-Davies and Denholm Elliot return from before, always likable and with more prominent roles. Allison Doody is also a significant step up from Kate Capshaw, showing her own sense of drive but visibly caught in moral conflict. There’s also the return of Nazi villains. While not as visceral or visually menacing as Amrish Puri’s Mola Ram, they still effectively get under your skin and have you wishing for another epic demise. Even River Phoenix perfectly emulates a young Harrison Ford with his limited screen time. The supporting cast is notably stronger than in the last movie.

This is the most refined set of action sequences in the series. While still having its fair share of fantasy absurdity, the presentation, and sheer enjoyment make it a lot easier to swallow. Fires in the catacombs, a tank chase in the desert, train car hopping, motorcycles, it all looks incredible under sharp cinematography and amazing stunt work. The visual effects also look good to this day. Not to mention great sound and John Williams bringing out more memorable music and theme melodies for this series.

This initial trilogy defined action adventure cinema for generations to come and has yet to be topped. Not even in its own series.

“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” Trailer

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