This, the third in the Indiana Jones trilogy, is by far my favourite. Raiders of the Lost Ark was high quality, of course, if briefly stodgy in one or two places. Temple of Doom was just an awful mess, a mish-mash of ideas and migraine-inducing story points. It was an exercise in outdoing the original movie, but rather than achieving this it just went tackier on a grander scale. Part of the reason I like Last Crusade so much is that, at the risk of sounding like some government program, it went back to basics. The focus once again was on the narrative; mixing action with drama and suspense with humour. And it did so in a way that surpassed Raiders. How? Two words, one name. Sean Connery. I'm not going to spend the entire review writing about how excellent the character of Henry Jones Snr. (played by Connery) was. Promise.
However, I am going to spend a paragraph or two reveling in the greatest addition to the Indiana Jones series, bar the fedora-wearing moniker man. This is the best father character ever seen on the big screen...ever! In the world! Volume III! He patronises his son, he makes really bad jokes, he's clever but can also be a buffoon - he's everything a father really is. And what's more, he has a beard! Not just a beard, but it comes with a tweed jacket also! Top this off with a nice line in hats, glasses and bag-with-umbrella accessories and you're talking sass with a capital Sean. Is there any male reader of this site out there that doesn't want to look like this man when they're in the twilight of life? Come to think of it, is there any male reader of this site? In fact, are there any readers? Hello? Is there anyone there? It's awful lonely, you know. Please come back!
This is a man who manages to verbally kick Indiana Jones in the nuts, even in the most deadly of scenarios. Bear in mind that to rescue his father, Indiana was almost killed in Venice, beaten up several times, had to do a really bad - and pointless - Scottish impersonation to enter the castle his dad was being held in - and trailed halfway across the world. His one mistake? Bringing his father's grail diary with him, even though it's the only way the duo could find the location of the fabled object. Seems pretty minimal in comparison to what Indiana went through. That's why Henry's comment about the diary that "I should have mailed it to the Marx Brothers" seems just a little bit harsh. Not convinced? Also consider that five minutes earlier as Indiana crashed through the window of Henry's cell as part of the rescue attempt, his father smashing a vase in his face was what greeted him. As Indiana recovered - visibly in pain - Henry's only concern was whether or not the vase was a fake.
As Indiana lies in a pool of his own blood, shards of an imitation vase sticking out of his head, Henry merely jokes "Sorry about the head, but I thought you were one of them". Them of course means the Nazis (boo! Hiss! Hitler was gay! Allegedly!). But in case you think that Henry's angry, sarcasm-monster attitude towards his son reveals a subtle tendency to support the Nazi regime, the good old guy puts everyone straight on his political persuasions later on. When the Nazi Colonel Vogel bitch-slaps Henry around a bit and asks him what the grail dairy tells Indiana's father that it doesn't tell Hitler and his stupid, stupid followers, Henry says "It tells me that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them". That Sean Connery is one mean turkey. He even has wings and runs around saying "Gobble gobble" and everything! What a star! What a versatile performer!
I've realised now that saying I would write 'a paragraph or two' about Henry Jones Snr. has turned into several paragraphs, so I'll just try and tell the basic plot of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade through Sean Connery's character. You're probably thinking that's not good news, and if so then Henry's comment that "our situation has not improved" is perfectly apt. In this movie, the two Jones's go on a quest - a crusade if you will - for what may be the final time - or last time, for want of a better word, to get the Holy Grail before the Nazis do. Which makes it a kind of last crusade. Spot the subtle movie reference? The competition they're up against consists of a menacing but oh-so-slightly-camp Nazi Colonel (the aforementioned Vogel), General Veers out of The Empire Strikes Back (Julian Glover as bad guy Walter Donovan) and a woman called Alison Doody. Yes, Doody. A fine name if ever I heard one.
Henry Jones Snr. is a clever man. He wears a tweed jacket, for crying out loud! The only people I know who wear them are University lecturers with many, many letters after their names (good ones, like PhD and LLB, rather than bad ones like DOA or DUI). Oh, I've seen a couple of drunken hobos wearing tattered tweed jackets and cursing at me - and anyone, or anything for that matter - to pass the day, but on the whole tweed jackets remain a good indicator of someone possessing enormous brains. Case in point; whenever there's a problem in the movie that Indiana can't solve, Henry comes out with a line like "a solution presents itself!". For example, he uses his swish umbrella accessory to chase a million and one birds into the sky, to destroy a Nazi fighter plane. This is excellent for several reasons, not least the image of Sean Connery running along a beach, flapping an umbrella open and shut and screaming "chuck-chuck-chuck!" at the top of his voice.
Strangely, especially given my usual anger-filled musings on movies, this review has been on the whole rather positive. As Henry Jones Snr. himself might have said, "it's a new experience for me". This is a fantastic movie; one in which you get to see Sean Connery slapped about with a glove, Harrison Ford doing what he does best (namely an action adventure movie), Denholm Elliot falling over and looking confused a lot and John Rhys-Davies being big-boned and starting the domino effect that lead to the revelation of how Indiana Jones got his name by asking "Please, what does it always mean, this... this 'Junior'?". What more could you possibly want? The truth? You can't handle the truth! No truth-handler you! I deride your truth-handling abilities! Apologies for the pointless Simpsons reference and I'll simply tell you that - if you didn't know already - Indiana got his name from the Jones' pet dog. His real name is Henry Jones Jnr. See how every strand of the movie's plot links back to his father?
Okay, it's time to come clean. No, not in that sense, you sick, sick person. What I meant was it's time to admit I lied to you. Yes, I broke my promise about not focusing too much on Sean Connery and the character of Indiana Jones Snr. in this review. Oh, Gringo, you say, Gringo you are such a filthy-mouthed liar! I am never speaking to you again! Take your things and leave! Well, I only have a box to pack up so I will do so and end this review soon. I really liked Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and I've not done a good enough job of promoting how excellent the film really is. Then again, considering it took several hundred million dollars in box office receipts, I'm betting you've probably already seen it. Win-win situation! If Henry was reading this review, he would probably have been so confused by this point he'd shout something like "You call this archaeology?". No I don't, Mr. Jones. I call it stupidity. But at least I'm not some freakish turkey-old man hybrid.
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