Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Last Crusade



While out horse-riding with his Boy Scout Troop, 13-year old Indiana Jones (River Phoenix) discovers a group of thugs that found a golden cross. Indiana, who wants the cross in a museum instead of in someone’s personal possession, steals it. Back at home, where his father, Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery) is busy doing research on the Holy Grail, Indiana is forced to hand the cross over to the sheriff who returns it to the thugs’ leader.

Years later, Indiana recovers the cross and donates it to a museum as he always wished. He is back teaching archaeology at the university and he is swamped with work and over eager students. Walter Donovan (Julian Glover), an ancient artifact collector, meets Indiana and tells him that Henry has disappeared while looking for the Grail in Venice. Indiana finds a package in the mail from his father, containing the diary Henry kept with all the Grail data he has.


Indiana and his friend Marcus travel to Venice where they meet Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody). Indiana immediately finds a secret passageway under a library. Indy and Elsa find a complete version of the inscription Henry had used, revealing the location of the Grail. The passageway is set alight by members of the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, a society that protects the Grail from evil goers who want it only for power. After Indiana catches the Brotherhood’s leader, Kazim (Kevork Malikyan), he reveals to Indiana where Henry is being held captive – Castle Brunwald on the Austrian-German border.

Indiana rescues Henry but is betrayed by Elsa and Walter Donovan, both undercover Nazis. They had patiently waited for Indiana to find the Grail, and tie him and his father up in the castle while awaiting execution. The Jones’ escape and head to Berlin to retrieve the diary from Elsa. They are successful but Indiana has a terrifying face to face encounter with Adolf Hitler.

After escaping capture yet again, Indiana and Henry meet up with Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) in Hatay. They learn that their friend Marcus (Denholm Elliot), who had accompanied them on the quest, has since been abducted by the Nazis. The Nazis are moving towards the Grail’s location with the map they stole from Marcus.

Indiana, Henry and Sallah find the Nazis. Henry is captured while trying to rescue Marcus. Indiana and Sallah manage to save both Henry and Marcus.

The four catch up with the Nazis once again who are now trying to retrieve the Grail. In the temple there are a series of booby-traps and they know only Indiana has the abilities to get through them. As motivation, the Nazis fatally shoot Henry because they know the only way Indiana can save his father is through the restorative powers of the Grail. Indiana gets through the traps and finds a room with plenty fake replicas of the Grail and one true one. The keeper of the Grail tells Indiana that he can have it if he chooses the correct cup; any other cup will kill him. Elsa and Donovan arrive and she betrays Donovan by giving him the wrong cup and killing him. Indiana chooses the right cup and rushes back to his father, restoring him to full health. Elsa forgets the keeper’s warning and takes the cup out of the boundaries it is supposed to stay in and the temple begins to collapse. She dies when she tries to save the cup, and Indiana nearly goes the same way but listens to his father and leaves the cup. He, Henry, Sallah and Marcus escape into the sunset while the temple collapses behind them.

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Rating: 7.5/10

I liked this movie so much more than the Temple of Doom. It wasn’t nearly as depressing or dark and had the trademark adventures from both previous movies. I loved that they made the Nazis the enemy again. I like that their enemies were basic, you know (not that the Nazis were basic or not a proper enemy, rather that everyone had a common enemy and everyone could associate)

I am not a fan of woman beater Connery and thought his character was rather idiotic. He seemed strange and a bad father and nothing he did endeared him to me. To be fair, I probably would have liked the character more if someone decent portrayed Dr. Jones Senior.

Even with her questionable ethics, I liked Dr. Elsa Schneider. She is an impressive female lead and a very decent villain. I found her classy and beautiful and intelligent and miles different from Willy (a definite improvement).

I loved the return of Sallah and the University and how popular Jones was with his students.

The scene where Indiana comes face to face with Hitler was quite scary. I liked how much more authentic the Nazis were – in the Raiders of the Lost Ark they were portrayed as a bit dumb, but in the Last Crusade it is obvious that they were an evil force rapidly gaining speed. Those flags hanging everywhere were quite chilling.

I am happy I started watching the Indiana Jones franchise. It is fun and entertaining and I can see myself watching at least two of the three again at a later stage.

This movie had everything needed to be a good action movie. It moved fast and I wasn’t bored at all. Really good stuff!