Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was the first Indy movie I watched and, to be honest, I didn’t go into it with high expectations (modern action/adventure films really aren’t my thing). My brother, Noah, saw all four movies when he was away visiting relatives, came back raving about them, and watched Raiders, Temple of Doom, and The Last Crusade with my other brother, Ezra, all in short order. I forget why I even agreed to sit down and watch The Last Crusade that one evening, but I think it might have been because I was bored and no movie interested me. (By the way, I didn’t like Harrison Ford the way I do now, so that had something to do with my reluctance, I’m sure.) So, we watched it and I remember the exact moment where I was all like “Okay, THIS IS PRETTY EPIC”. It was right where Indy and his dad escape from under the Nazis’ noses in that motorcycle and the theme starts playing and…yeah, it’s pretty epic. (And I know that’s over an hour into the movie, but it took me a while to warm up to it, okay?)
Since then, I’ve been a staunch Indiana Jones fan and The Last Crusade has remained my favorite of the four films. Raiders is lots of fun but it didn’t have the depth of characterization that The Last Crusade brings to Indy (in my opinion) and Steven Spielberg himself said that he enjoyed having the opportunity to do a real character study in the third movie. Temple of Doom is awful, with barely any redeeming qualities, but I actually really, REALLY like Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. (Because, again with the character development and interpersonal relationships.) Anyway, The Last Crusade is my favorite of the four and now I suppose I should actually write the review and go into detail about the whys and wherefores.
Firstly, Harrison Ford is AWESOME. I could watch him all day (which is why I never feel like one Indy movie is enough – if I watch one, I feel like watching them all) and Indiana Jones himself is a pretty cool guy. What I like about The Last Crusade is that you get to see all that coolness and his ‘tough guy’ persona fall away for once when he reunites with Henry Jones, Sr. (Though it doesn’t leave for long.) Always makes me grin. Indy’s relationship with his dad is both hilarious and poignant and I never tire of seeing it play out onscreen. Sean Connery is great (and now I want to see all those Bond films my mom keeps talking about) and, oh, it’s just amazing to see him and Harrison Ford play off one another. I love the subtle softening of their relationship and there are three moments that never fail to make me tear up (just a little, though, because it’s a straight-up action movie after all): the “I’ve lost him” scene, the scene where Henry Jones get shot (I NEVER SEE IT COMING), and the “Indiana…let it go” scene. There’s a depth to their father-son relationship that goes beyond mere banter and friendly insults and I love, love, love that.
Seeing Sallah and Marcus again was lovely – they’re both such great characters. As for Elsa, though I’m sure that Indy ended up thinking of her as just another woman who didn’t have the spark that Marian had, I still like her character (traitor though she may be) and I think that she and Indy had an…interesting rapport. I like her much better than Willy, anyway. Donavan was a creep and deserved everything he got (my siblings and I always snicker over the bit right after he drinks from the wrong cup ’cause the expression on his face seems to say “Ahhhh. I can feel it working already” – well, yes, but not the way you might think).
And now for a short(ish) list of other stuff I adore about this movie:
- The soundtrack is brilliant and beautiful, thanks, of course, to John Williams. He always turns in great music.
- River Pheonix does a great job of channeling Harrison Ford (though, personally, the prologue bores me a little).
- “He’s got a two day head start on you, which is more than he needs. Brody’s got friends in every town and village from here to the Sudan, he speaks a dozen languages, knows every local custom, he’ll blend in, disappear, you’ll never see him again. With any luck, he’s got the grail already.” (HA.)
- I could quote this movie word for word. Pretty much. The dialogue is snappy and smart and it never gets old.
- Pretty much any scene with Indy and Henry Jones.
- The Scottish lord scene. BEST.
- The three trials – the first time I watched The Last Crusade, I thought that was extremely cool. I enjoy stuff like that.
- Did I mention Indy and his dad yet?
- That awkward moment when Adolf Hitler signs your dad’s Grail diary.
- Professor Indy is super. I really dig his glasses and suit (not that I don’t love the Indy outfit).
- It’s funny, but not in a stupid, vulgar way. Harrison Ford and Sean Connery are both at the top of their game. All the supporting cast did a superb job. There are those deep, emotional bits that I love and it’s a relatively clean movie. Everything is perfection and it’s one of my top ten favorite films.
- So, basically…everything?
I LOVE YOU, MOVIE.
Do you agree that The Last Crusade is the best Indiana Jones movie? Or do you prefer one of the others? (And let’s start some juicy debates about Kingdom of the Crystal Skull!)