Last Crusade, The (1989)

Spielberg’s strong morality tale against greed is as spectacular as it is funny – my favourite of the Indiana Jones films.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Review #370

Dir. Steven Spielberg
1989 | USA | Action/Adventure | 127 mins | 2.39:1 | English & German
PG (passed clean)

Cast: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody
Plot: When Dr. Henry Jones suddenly goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, eminent archaeologist Indiana Jones must follow in his father’s footsteps and stop the Nazis. 
Awards: Won 1 Oscar – Best Sound Editing; Nom. for 2 Oscars – Best Sound, Best Original Score

Distributor: Paramount

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Mainstream

Viewed: DVD
First Published: 5 Jan 2009
Spoilers: No

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the third installment of the successful action-adventure series created by George Lucas and directed by Steven Spielberg.  It is my personal favorite, and in my opinion, it slightly eclipses Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), which is widely considered to be the holy grail of action-adventure movies and the best in the series.

The Last Crusade is closer in thematic material and narrative structure to Raiders than the second installment, The Temple of Doom (1984), which is more ominous and at times uneasy to watch, rather than spectacular and great, silly fun. 

In The Last Crusade, there is a new element added to the plot: the father-and-son relationship.  Here, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) teams up with his archaeologist dad, Henry Jones (Sean Connery), to locate the cup of life that brings the promise of immortality before the evil Nazis do. 

Connery’s character is written with the intention to provide comic relief as well as to further our understanding of the man with the iconic fedora and whip.  

“Nazis. I hate these guys.”

Scenes in which both father and son are in the same frame are the most hilarious, with the humour arising not only from the awkward relationship that they share, but also from the sarcasm they have for each other. 

The Last Crusade also boasts top-notch action sequences including a lengthy battle between Indy and co. against the villains and their humongous tank that ends with the best laugh-out-loud moment in Indy cinema.  

It also features John Williams’ best score in an Indy film; he sticks to more melodious tunes this time round with the introduction of a couple of new key themes that evoke the spirit of the quest and enhance the aforementioned father-son relationship. 

With this film, Spielberg continues the escapist tradition that is the hallmark of all Indy pictures.  As a strong morality tale against greed, The Last Crusade is one of the best offerings of its genre and is a marked improvement over The Temple of Doom.  It should have been a fitting end to the popular series.  Sadly, Spielberg indulged and made one too many.

Grade: A  



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