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‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 26, 1989


Steven Spielberg
Harrison Ford;
Sean Connery;
Denholm Elliott;
John Rhys-Davies;
River Phoenix
Children under 13 should be accompanied by a parent

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You want Adventure? Thrills? How about Rats?

In "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," director Steven Spielberg capitalizes on these and other basic human needs. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" this ain't, but "Crusade" towers like a knight over "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." Start lining up now, bring a bullwhip -- and maybe some d-Con. Indiana will do the rest.

Indiana and Dad, that is -- Dad being father-figure-for-hire Sean Connery, who, it turns out, is an old block off of Harrison Ford's chip. "Junior," he keeps calling his son. "Stop calling me 'Junior,' " Jones-the-younger keeps saying.

Their Oedipal vexation is the central theme in a quest for the spiritual big one -- the Holy Grail. Ford has been dispatched to retrieve Daddy Connery, who was close to uncovering the blessed chalice but has been nabbed, as usual, by the armies of darkness. "Nazis," says Ford. "I hate these guys."

Naturally, Luke Sky -- uh, Indiana Jones links up with his father and traverses the world, this time with stops at Venice, the Austro-German border (pausing for an unrequested autograph from Hitler) and Alexandria, Egypt. You know, it's surprising Indiana Jones never bumps into James Bond.

If you go to "Crusade," though, you're not looking for surprises. You can safely expect Jones' trademark twisted grin, hat, wisecracks and whip cracks, the pantomime villains, the ingeniously rigged catastrophes (including a plane that loses its wings in a tunnel but lands and keeps speeding down the road) and the tributes by cine-kid Spielberg to everything from "The Birds" to "She." Story coauthors George Lucas and Menno Meyjes and scriptwriter Jeffrey Boam make this one eternal chase-crusade -- by circus train (featuring River Phoenix as young Indiana), motorboat, motorbike, zeppelin, warplane, horse, camel and tank. They also slip in a naughty close encounter with ice queen Alison Doody, who, it turns out, has a thing for fathers and fatherlands.

But rest assured: In Spielberg-Lucas lore, every good boy deserves favor and every bad girl gets her comeuppance. In the end, the father-son team undertakes a triumphant final test, including a Peter Pannish leap of faith and a Christlike ascension -- you know, Spielberg Heaven.

And Spielberg Heaven was all you were looking for, right?

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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