Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Review

Director: Steven Spielberg

Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Comedy

Runtime: 127 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13

IMDb Page

Director Steven Spielberg, ideas man George Lucas, actor Harrison Ford, and composer John Williams manage to catch lightning in a bottle for a third time in a row with the third entry into the Indiana Jones saga, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – the previous two films being Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). This time, archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) must team up with his father, Dr. Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery) to track down the Holy Grail.

Last Crusade is far jokier in tone than its predecessors, lacking the hard-boiled edge that the two previous flicks had. Frequently considered the second best of the franchise, after Raiders of course, I actually find it to be my third favorite of the series. It repeats a bit too many notes from Raiders and plays it a bit on the safe side to overtake Temple of Doom in my rankings. While humor has always been an important part of the Indiana Jones films, Last Crusade is the first one that could be considered a true action-comedy (it’s funnier than just about any straight comedy). This sometimes comes at a cost, with Indy sidekicks Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) and especially Dr. Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott), both of whom also appeared in Raiders, being largely reduced to buffoons here. The violence is also noticeably toned down (though still a tad on the graphic side by modern PG-13 standards).

John Williams’ musical score works wonders, but you’re probably wondering about the action scenes. Have no fear, because they’re top-notch. The special effects are generally great, but a scene or two look like they were made on the cheap. I’m talking primarily about the biplane escape scene, which doesn’t look as good as a similar airplane scene at the beginning of Raiders.

I hope I’m not coming across as too harsh here, because this flick is remarkable entertainment. Despite some familiarity with the first movie in the franchise, Last Crusade has a secret weapon (okay, maybe it’s not so secret) that allows it to establish its own identity. This is, of course, the film’s father/son dynamic, which makes for an interesting addition to the Indiana Jones pictures. The relationship between Ford and Connery’s characters gives the movie a lot of heart.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is one of my all-time favorite flicks. Some similarities with Raiders of the Lost Ark don’t really diminish it, for this clever movie is still a spine-tingling adventure. It ends the original Indiana Jones trilogy on a perfect note.

My rating is 10 outta 10.

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