It should have ended here, and for a long time (nineteen years to be exact) it did. The final image of Henry Jones Jr, Henry Jones Sr, Sallah and Marcus Brody riding off into the sunset, a glorious image that plays right over the end credits, was the perfect ending to the Indiana Jones series.
Unlike Star Wars, the Jones saga was never serialised and each movie could be watched on its own, but there was a sense of finality to the final scenes of this movie that suggested that we never needed to see another adventure for the intrepid archaeologist again.
Whilst a prequel television series went into production, and was actually pretty enjoyable, with one guest appearance from Ford, further cinematic adventures for Indiana apparently had stopped. Every once in a while rumours would circulate of a new script, with A-list writers such as M.Night Shyamalan and Frank Darabont linked to scripting duties, but it really did seem as if The Last Crusade was really the last.
Whilst opinion was divided on Temple of Doom and its more darker narrative, the third movie saw the return of Nazis, Sallah, Marcus Brody and, bringing things full circle, the casting of James Bond himself as our hero’s dad.
The Last Crusade has great action set pieces and stunts, as well as a brilliant sense of pace and adventure, but its the father/son dynamic at the heart of it that makes it a truly great film. The chemistry between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery is simply magnificent, as they trade witty barbs and put downs throughout, the film almost more fun when its just hanging out with the two characters as it is when punching, shooting and running, although that also is fantastic. A tank chase at the end of the second act is one of the best set-pieces from the entire series.
We get another classy villain in the style of Paul Freeman, with another classically trained British actor in the shape of Julian Glover as Walter Donovan, Allison Doody as the Grace Kelly-esque Elsa, and a horribly vindictive, vicious Nazi henchman played by Michael Byrne. Best of all, John Rhys Davies and Denholm Elliot, the latter providing a lot of comedic relief and even heading off in the field with our heroes, while River Phoenix’s cameo as a Young Indy is incredibly charming.
Many have complained that the opening offers way too much in the way of convenience with every characteristic of Indiana established all in the shape of one action sequence, but when it’s this much fun, why complain?
The comedy, the action, the characters, it’s damn well perfect, and Connery is tremendous. Of course only the original James Bond could be Indy’s dad, and the scenes between them are some of the best to appear in a Spielberg movie; the dialogue, the humour, the back and forward and the eventual reconciliation at the end is all beyond brilliant. Lovely and perfect, it’s amongst some of the best scripting in the series.
It should have ended with them all riding off in the sunset, and for many Kingdom of the Crystal Skull left a sour taste in the mouth’s that has lasted until this day. Best to forget it, let it go and just remember how nearly damn perfect the first three movies are, especially The Last Crusade.
COMING SOON:”Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need…roads.”