Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Directed by Steven Spielberg • Written by Jeffrey Boam • Story by George Lucas & Menno Meyjes
With Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody, Denholm Elliot, Julian Glover and River Phoenix.
After the dark-hearted nastiness of Temple of Doom, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas restore a lighter and crucially more enjoyable tone to Last Crusade – the film that was supposed to be the sign-off for Harrison Ford’s time as intrepid adventurer, Indiana Jones. I’ll leave talk of Crystal Skulls for another day.
This film shares kinship with Raiders of the Lost Ark as once again, Indy is pitted against Nazi’s as he goes in search of a powerful religious artefact, this time, the ‘cup of Christ’ – aka the Holy Grail. While it’s endlessly argued which is the better film between Last Crusade and Raiders, what’s absolutely sure is that Crusade is the funniest of the 80’s trilogy. Not only is Jeffrey Boam’s screenplay an absolute treat, it’s further served by one of the best father-son team-ups ever put on film, as Sean Connery is introduced as Indiana Jones’s Dad. Ford and Connery compliment each other in ways you might never imagine, both working hard to make the other look good like a seasoned old comedy double act.
Not only is Last Crusade funny, it also features rollicking action set-pieces and another grand original score by John Williams. All the while, it retains the B-movie, sub-horror-genre staples that made Raiders such an exhilarating ride. What’s more, Denholm Elliot and John Rhys Davies return, visibly relishing the opportunity to reprise their roles while the Grace Kelly-like Alison Doody is deliciously dangerous as Indy’s (kind of) partner in mayhem – why she never became a huge star will forever evade me.
While it might not be as iconic as Raiders, Last Crusade is nevertheless wholly enjoyable in its own right. The overall tone is an excellent balance of elements as Spielberg manages to bottle lightning twice with Indiana Jones, squeezing the maximum amount of fun out of cast, crew and script. There’s a family reunion feel in a film that is lovingly staged, shot, edited and acted. 5/5