It has been nearly twenty years since Indy went on his Last Crusade, and I was eager to see if the magic of that film could be recaptured after this long hiatus. As the final credits roll to the familiar theme, I can say that the ride was enjoyable but not one I would be eager to take again. Rumors have been swirling that the franchise will continue into the next generation with Shia LeBeouf donning the fedora, and it seems this film was little else than a vehicle for that purpose. All the action was there and was spectacular. It was the sense of actual adventure that seemed to be missing.
The film opens in the era of the Red Scare, and Indy is being held captive by a band of Russian soldiers led by a seductively evil Cate Blanchett. Their goal is to find a mysterious box in Area 51; hmm… that’s a bit redundant. I can’t imagine any box in Area 51 containing something mundane. This box contains the remains found at the famous Roswell crash, and Indy just happened to be gang pressed into examining the remains by the Men in Black.
Right, you can guess where the endgame for this film is headed; one does not step into Area 51, mention Roswell, and not have aliens involved at the end. These aliens though did not lead us to Egypt and the pyramids. Instead, they lead Indy and his new sidekick Mutt (LeBeouf) down to South America to find a mysterious crystal skull discovered by the Spanish conquistador Francisco de Orellana. Along the way Indy and Mutt pick up an old colleague that went mad after finding the skull and Indy’s old flame Marion Williams, née Ravenwood. Cue the “big” reveals that Mutt is Indy’s son and that Indy left Marion just before they were to be married.
The action sequences moving the movie forward were well choreographed and entertaining. However, they felt like they were simply chewing up time; the sense of actually questing for something was missing. Most of the time was spent juggling the skull between Indy and the Russians. Once we arrive at the titular kingdom, there simply isn’t a pressing reason to be there.
It was an entertaining film, but it goes down as the weakest of the franchise, yes, even weaker than Temple of Doom. I think this would have gone down a bit better if it came out a decade ago; then, you could at least hope that Harrison Ford could make one more as the lead and go out with a mighty whip crack.