Friday, 30 October 2015

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

"Indiana? We called the dog Indiana!"

And so we come to the last and easily the best of the original trilogy. And, given the high quality of the other two films, that's a bloody big achievement.

So why is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade so bloody good? Well, it's partly because they've clearly thought long and hard about what worked best in the other two films, and they've rightly decided that Raiders of the Lost Ark is worth mining for the good stuff. So Marcus is back. So is Sallah. So, most importantly, are the Nazis. You've got to have Nazis.

There's also an outstanding cast. Ice tagged a few below, but there wasn't room for the likes of Alexei Sayle, Vernon Dobtceff, an uncredited Michael Sheard as Hitler or even River Phoenix as the young Indy. But the real casting coup is, of course, the ever-charismatic Sean Connery as Dr Henry Jones, Senior. Connery is simply excellent here. So good, in fact, that he even condescends to not sound like he's from Edinburgh for once.

Said opening sequence, with young Indy and the train full of circus animals, is superb, and not only because it reminds me of the contemporary 8 bit computer game. It even attempts to explain the origin of Indy's fear of snakes, but it wisely doesn't reveal too much about his mysterious father who, indeed, is held back until just the right moment.

The plot itself is very Raiders of the Lost Ark without being in any way too slavishly similar. And what can outdo the Ark of the Covenant but the Holy Grail? 

As per the previous film we get a series of outstanding set pieces- I love the airship- but the outstanding chemistry between Harrison Ford and Connery adds so much more. Connery is having great fun with a superb character and his presence pushes Ford to ever greater heights: this is one of the most entertaining cinematic double acts ever. 

And then we come to the climax. The "invisible" bridge falls just short of the supernatural, but Donovan's gruesome death at imbibing the false Grail is delightfully gruesome, and the whole climax is deeply satisfying which, er, sounds a bit ruder than intended.

Possibly one of the greatest adventure films ever. Personally I dread to think just how many times I've seen it.

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