‘Why do you seek the Cup of Christ? Is it for His glory, or for yours?’
Every year on my birthday, I force my wife and my cat to sit down with me all day and watch films. Last year we ploughed through the Terminator franchise via Karate Kid. The year before it was the Rocky movies. This year I went for a mixed bag. Three of my favourites from those formative teenage years when everything is brilliant and you don’t ache when you get out of bed each morning. On reflection, the Indiana Jones movies were more important to me than the Star Wars films growing up. And what an utter pleasure it was to revisit the third and final film in an incredible trilogy (I shall be ignoring all sequels released after this one).
Despite watching the ark of the covenant literally turn a bunch of Nazi’s into mush, our fearless hero Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) returns to the world of religious artefacts when he goes after the Holy Grail – the cup from which Jesus Christ drank at the last supper. The Holy Grail has been something of a… well… holy grail for Indiana Jones, stemming from his father’s obsession with the cup (Jones senior being played with unbridled joy by Sean Connery).
It has to be said looking back that Temple of Doom, the film that preceded this one, is the weakest of the original trilogy. Sure, it’s portrayal of Hindus is troublesome and it’s one female character is a shrieking imbecile, but worse than that, it’s just not that great a movie. It fell to The Last Crusade to prove that this franchise was worth mentioning in the same breath as some of the greats.
Director Steven Spielberg weaves a fascinating web with various twists and turns and the action sequences are at least as iconic as those in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but in truth, The Last Crusade is made great by its leading actors. Sean Connery and Harrison Ford are a terrific double act. Totally believable, and always able to wring that extra laugh or emotional beat out of every scene in which they share. It is a joy to see these two men act alongside each other, to the extent that I would struggle to name an onscreen duo that I’d rather watch.
The Last Crusade is that most rarest of things. A movie that is truly timeless. It hasn’t aged a day since its release in 1989, and it is a genuine shame that the franchise wasn’t allowed to end, as it should have, with this gold star of a film. Isn’t it great when something is as good as you remembered it?