Film Review - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade' is commonly regarded as the second-best adventure movie of all time. But how does it fare in my opinion? Scroll below to read my review of Steven Spielberg's adventure wonder.
I will be discussing the main plot and how the characters interact and what they do in the film so be warned Spoilers Ahead!
The Last Crusade opens with young Indy (River Phoenix) on a scout group tour in the desert. There he finds a cave and in that cave is a group of looters who have found the infamous Cross of Coronado. Believing it to be an artifact that should be in a museum, Indy steals the cross and a wild goose chase between the two parties ensues which ends up on a circus train. Upon this train, Indy goes to a lion's chamber and uses it's whip to keep it away, he goes to a magic chamber and vanishes through a box, he goes to a rhino's chamber where he is saved by the looter's and finally, he lands in a pit of snakes which stimulates his fear of snakes but saves him from the looters. He runs back to his house where his father neglects his cries and ignores Indy instead asking him to count to ten in Greek. When the sheriff arrives, so to do the looters who regain the cross and give it to a rich man who claims the cross as his own. The head looter gives Indy his trademark fedora and the flashback is over.
We now catch up with modern day Indy (Harrison Ford) who is on a ship and has stolen the cross back. As he tries to leave the ship, he is spotted by the rich man from the flashback and a fight ensues. After blowing up the ship, Indy swims back to shore and returns to teaching his class before his friend Marcus Brody visits and the Cross is donated to his museum. Indy is then introduced Walter Donovan and Walter explains that part of a tablet contain the location of the Holy Grail has been found and how he needs Indy to find the other part. Indy shoots down this idea stating that his father would be the ideal Professor Henry Jones to go on this mission only for Walter to retaliate with the fact that it was Indy's father that went missing.
Indy goes to his father's house to find him missing and the house in shambles. He then accepts Walter's mission and heads to Venice to find the last person to talk to his father: Dr Schneider. Upon his arrival, he is greeted by Dr Schneider who, much to Indy's surprise, is a beautiful woman. Indy wastes no time as he heads on with the mission as he goes into the library where Dr Schneider took Indy's father and solves the code that his father was working on. He realizes that the remaining piece of the tablet was under the museum and he breaks a hole into the ground and heads under.
After trudging through a narrow corridor of oil, Indy and Elsa arrive in a broad cave filled with rats. Once they slowly walk through the cave, an unseen attacker lights the oil on fire which slowly moves towards the pair. Indy, who doesn't know about the fire, finds the tablet and he sketches the inscription onto his piece of paper in the Grail Diary that his father had given him. When he realized the fire, he hides under the tablet resulting in its destruction. The assailant that attacked them earlier was then apprehended by Indy who reveals that he is in the Brotherhood that protects the Grail. Indy says that all he cares about is his father and gives the map in the diary to Marcus and he sends him to Alexandretta to meet with their friend Sallah from the first film. He also finds that his father is being held captive in a Nazi controlled castle in Austria.
Indy then flies to Austria to try and meet his father and enters the castle posing as a Scottish lord with Elsa being his wife. His bluff is called instantly and he fights his way into the castle and avoids detection. He swings through the window and finds Professor Henry Jones Sr (Sean Connery). He cuts his father free and finds Elsa asking for the Grail Diary. Trusting her as he had just slept with her, he gave her the diary despite his father's claims that she was a Nazi. AS it turns out, his father was right and she was a Nazi instantly turning on them and having them tied up. They soon realize that Walter Donovan was also working for the Nazis and try to escape their captors. A series of events leaves the room that they are being held in in fire and Indy finds a switch that moves part of the room into the adjacent lab. As they slowly turn between the two rooms and eventually cut themselves free, they set of a wild goose chase between them and the Nazis in the castle. They make it to the uppermost room and they set of a trapdoor that leads to the docks below. Indy then sets of a boat and they make a quick getaway in a motorbike with a sidecar. Unbeknownst to them, the Nazis had captured Marcus and had used him as the map.
Indy's dad then makes him go to Berlin with all the Nazis on their tail in order to find the Grail Diary which was in the hands of Elsa. After knocking out a soldier, Indy steals his uniform and apprehends Elsa stealing the diary. He then runs into Hitler with the diary in his hand. Believing him to be a fan, Hitler takes the book and signs it. The two then make a quick escape to Alexandretta to try and find the Grail. They board a blimp but they are followed by Nazis and after Indy throws one out of the blimp, they are not bothered until they land in Alexandretta.
They then rendezvous with Sallah who informs the father and son pair of the kidnapping of Marcus. The three of them steal some horses and try to rescue Marcus from a tank. Professor Henry Sr takes Marcus out of the tank before both of them getting captured and held captive in the tank. Indy then blocks the gun on the tank with a rock before asking Sallah to save his father while he fights the captain of the tank. Sallah is successful but Indy's fight goes on for a long time with the tank moving closer and closer to a cliff. The tank then falls off the edge with Indy on it and his father starts crying but in actual fact, Indy had held on to the edge of a weed. He then pulls himself over the edge of the cliff and back onto safe ground to find everyone staring over the edge and crying. He then joins them to try and see what they are looking at and when his father sees him he jubilantly cries "Junior" which Indy hates being called and he proceeds on his journey to find the Grail.
The quartet then move through the canyons to get to the Grail, only to find that Walter and Elsa had made it there first. Held at gunpoint, Indy gets instructed to find the grail as they have the three steps to successfully making it there. Indy refuses even with a gun to his head but Walter surprises him by shooting his father and fatally wounds him. Indy realizes that the only way to save his father was to get the Grail and to bring it back and feed his father water from it. He then proceeds to the first trial.
The first trial is a set of razors that Indy has to dodge. He easily makes it past this stage and he blocks the razors from further moving. He then goes to the second stage.
The second trial was a set of letter that he had to cross. Solving the clue he had to walk on the letters of God. Thus he stepped on J to start the word Jehovah but the block crumbled under his feet. He hangs on for dear life and slowly pulls himself up and realizes that in Hebrew Jehovah starts with an I. From there onward he makes it all the way to the end of this stage. Unknown to him, Elsa and Walter had followed him into the cave.
The third stage required him to cross an invisible bridge. He jumped onto the bridge and slowly trudged along the bridge and sprinkled some stones on it so that he could get out. He then made it into the cave of the Grail.
Upon arrival, he is confronted by an old and sickly knight. The knight swings his sword and instantly collapses under pressure. He then claims that Indy has won the right to take the cup of Christ and have a drink but before he could, Walter and Elsa arrive in the chamber. They push Indy out of the way and try to take the cup for themselves. Realizing that there are multiple cups there, Elsa instructs Walter which one to get. Walter then drinks from the cup and slowly has his skin melted off and his skeleton turned to dust. Indy then grabs another cup and decides to drink it himself before he gives it to his father. He drinks it and the knight remarks "You chose wisely" implying that he had the right cup. He then runs outside to feed his father but not before he says goodbye to the knight who warns him to not take the Grail outside of the seal.
Indy returns and heals his fathers wounds. Indy then proceeds to leave while keeping the Grail aside. Elsa, in a moment of greed, takes the cup and tries to run away. The entire cave then collapses in on itself and Elsa is stuck in a chasm. Indy grabs her before she could fall to her death but she values the Grail more and falls anyway. Indy then gets flung over the edge and his father catches him. Almost falling victim to the same greed that took Elsa, he is awoken to his senses by his father who saves him from his death. They then quickly escape the temple when Indy and the knight share eye contact before the building collapses between them. The four of them then mount their horses and ride of in the sunset laughing with the Indiana Jones theme blaring as the credits roll for a photo finish.
Is It Good?
I love this movie. The characterizations work and the film works as a nice return to form after the darker Temple of Doom. The introduction of Sean Connery as his father leads to a nice dynamic and the chemistry between the two legends is undeniable. Another thing that makes this movie work, is the fact that Professor Henry Jones Sr works as a caricature of the negligent and judgmental father type. We have all been in the same situation with our parents and seeing the seemingly indestructible and heroic Indiana Jones in that situation really makes him a more relatable character. The ending of this movie is all too perfect as the heroes quite literally ride off into the sunset. All in all, the direction that Spielberg took his adventure franchise was very nice and led to a fantastic film.
If You Want To Watch The Film
Cast and Crew
Steven Spielberg - Director
Jeffery Boam - Screenplay
George Lucas - Story + Producer
Menno Meyjes - Story
John Williams - Music
Harrison Ford - Professor Henry 'Indiana' Jones Jr
Sean Connery - Professor Henry Jones Sr
Denholm Elliot - Marcus Brody
Alison Doody - Dr Elsa Schneider
John Rhys-Davis - Sallah
Julian Glover - Walter Donovan
What Did You Think Of The Movie?
Harrison Ford, as always shines in his role as Indiana Jones. He captures the charm and bubbliness of the character very well and that combined with his chemistry with Sean Connery is fantastic. One cannot go far away without mentioning Sean Connery as his performance in this film is fantastic. He perfectly resembles a judgmental father and his character arc in this film as he throws his life's work into a chasm for his son who he never really cared about is fantastic. This film put two of the greatest actors ever together into a film and it absolutely pays off.
So that is it for my review and let me know what you guys thought of the film in the comments below and until I post my next review, keep watching movies guys.