Review: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenwriters: Jeffrey Boam, George Lucas, Menno Meyjes
Starring: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody, Denholm Elliott, John Rhys-Davies
Genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Sci-fi/Fantasy
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
Release Dates: 5/24/89 (Theatres); 1/28/14 (Streaming)
Best Line: “Nazis…I hate those guys.”
Runtime: 2 hours, 7 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Oscars: Won–Sound Editing, Nominated–Sound, Original Score
Where to Watch: Netflix

Like the first film in the franchise, the final Indiana Jones film, The Last Crusade, is funny, entertaining, and smart. And, despite the fact that Raiders of the Lost Ark is a terrific film, this one may be even better. That’s primarily thanks to the addition of Sean Connery as Indy’s father, Henry Jones, Sr. Despite the fact that Connery was only about a decade older than Ford, they have surprisingly great, father-son-like chemistry. Seriously, the words “Junior” and “Dad” are said aloud more times than I can count (I’m sure someone has).

While the Ford-Connery scenes are clearly among the best in the film, there’s a lot that happens around them that is pretty stellar.  This one was released 8 years after the first one, and Ford has aged a bit, but not too much to be unable to do many of his own stunts. Yes, there’s another love interest, but there’s an added twist that is expected but still interesting.

Of course, we can’t forget glorious opening, which introduces us to young Indy, played by the late, great River Phoenix. Phoenix doesn’t imitate Ford’s mannerisms; rather, he easily embodies the body of a younger Indiana Jones. It’s also fascinating to see such things as how he got the cut on his lip, and how he ended up with the bullwhip (hey, that rhymes!). The beginning flashback scenes are not there just for those reasons, as they do directly tie in to the present-action scenes.  

The plot, like in the first film (I haven’t seen the oft-maligned second one), is highly mythologically based and fantastical, especially in the later scenes. It’s not meant to be realistic, but that’s okay, because it’s merely supposed to be entertaining and it certainly achieves that and then some — it’s also surprisingly smart in its portrayal of good vs. evil, and the heartwarming bond between father and son.