Perhaps in an effort to compensate for the second installment’s pervadingly dark vibe, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade has been infused with a breezy sensibility that’s often just a little too light-hearted for its own good. And while it’s impossible to deny the film’s status as the very best of the series’ sequels, there does reach a point at which one can’t help but long for the relative grittiness of the first installment. Opening with a fantastic prologue revolving around one of Indy’s early escapades – in which the character, played by River Phoenix, first dons his iconic fedora and whip, receives that infamous scar across his chin, and discovers his fear of snakes (all in the same afternoon!) – Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade follows Harrison Ford’s legendary archeologist as he teams up with his curmudgeonly father (Sean Connery’s Henry Jones) in an effort to track down the mythical Holy Grail before the Nazis. It’s clear almost immediately that Jeffrey Boam’s fast-paced and sporadically irreverent screenplay plays a significant role in the film’s drastic improvement over its immediate predecessor, with the inclusion of several thoroughly thrilling action set-pieces – as well as the palpable chemistry between Ford and Connery – ultimately elevating the proceedings to a level of quality that’s as close to the original as this series is likely going to get.
***1/2 out of ****