Indy to the Rescue Again
With his crooked smile, famous fedora and trusty bullwhip, one of our favorite action heroes returns to the screen in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Played for the fourth time by Harrison Ford, Indy still charms and delights us. He’s a little worse for wear physically but just as dedicated to finding incredible artifacts, no matter how dangerous that may be -- unless snakes are involved, of course. This time Indy gets drawn into the search for a mysterious crystal skull. His major rival? A ruthless Soviet agent, portrayed to the hilt by Cate Blanchett, who desires this strange object for her own nefarious purposes relating to the Cold War.
Plot takes a back seat to fast-paced action and amazing set pieces in this latest Indiana Jones outing. That’s no surprise, for we expect to be thrilled while watching Indy escape harrowing chases and fight his way out of desperate situations. But there are surprises here, including one relating to a new character played by Shia LaBeouf and a second involving old flame Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen).
From its exciting opening sequence to its clever closing scene, Crystal Skull made me grateful to Steven Spielberg for deciding to film another Indiana Jones adventure. Spielberg definitely knows what viewers enjoy seeing on the big screen: humor, action, suspense and characters we care about.
John Lehndorff of the Rocky Mountain News ranks Indiana Jones as Number One on his list of the top twenty-five movie action heroes. “The fedora transforms a mild-mannered professor into a square-jawed adventurer who takes on Nazis, curses, and large spiders, while keeping the world safe for scholarly archeology,” Lehndorff explains in his May 17th article. I like the way Lehndorff thinks.
Why do we find this character so appealing? I believe it’s because the oh-so human Indy succeeds without the help of any superpowers. He makes mistakes, then uses his wits to solve problems -- even while “making things up as he goes along.” His imperfect personal relationships also intrigue us. From his previous films, we can't help wondering why his interactions with women are always so fiery and why he suffers so much from his father's lack of respect for his accomplishments. Crystal Skull gives Indy a new challenge in this area when Mutt Williams (LaBeouf), a rebellious teenager, enters his life. Looking like a fugitive from Grease or The Wild One, Mutt calls Indy “Gramps” and “Old Man.” Will the age/attitude gap between these two interfere in their mission to find Mutt’s kidnapped mother and Professor Oxley (John Hurt), Indy’s friend? Is it possible for them to work together and stop the ruthless Irina Spalko (Blanchett) from obtaining that powerful crystal skull? La Beouf (Disturbia) adds another extremely watchable performance to his resumé with his amusing and energetic portrayal of Mutt. Ford and LaBeouf play off each other brilliantly, so it’s great fun to watch them in these entertaining roles.
Crystal Skull, however, belongs to 64-year-old Ford. His Indiana Jones may be older now, but he looks terrific. I understand Ford spent a great deal of time in the gym preparing for this film -- and it shows. Also, Ford’s ability to project a wonderful wry humor hasn’t dimmed one bit. Welcome back, Indiana Jones!
(Released by Paramount Pictures and rated “PG-13” for adventure violence and scary images.)