Welcome back “Indiana”-the old Ford still runs like new
Spoiler alert: Harrison Ford is 65 years old. Your reaction to this reality, and to the fact that he’s playing Indiana Jones-an action hero he originated 27 years ago and last portrayed in 1989-may in large part dictate your reaction to this fourth installment.
Two other geriatrics, director Steven Spielberg and storyteller George Lucas, do what most people of a certain age and attitude should do: embrace Indiana’s graying and prove that old icons can still kick butt (with the help of computer effects, of course). The result is a franchise resurrected and a film that delivers all the non-stop action, glee, and campy melodrama expected from a throwback to the Saturday afternoon popcorn thriller.
Those too young to have seen the originals in the theater may see all this elderly daring-do through jaded eyes and might not appreciate that the enjoyment here is partly the nostalgia of arguably the greatest reunion ever captured on film. Rumor has it the Indiana Jones costume still fit Ford without alteration.
Even more enjoyable to see is that the character still fits him to a “T” as well.
The first 20 minutes is a thrilling reintroduction to Dr. Jones circa 1957, kidnapped by Russians who are led by a fiery KGB agent (Cate Blanchett) and brought to the Nevada desert intent on breaking into the infamous Area 51. Mummified alien suspense, magnetic gunpowder tricks, a great ride on a g-force test vehicle and a simulated atomic blast prove that Spielberg, Lucas and crew haven’t lost a step after all these years.
The complex plot (much easier to understand upon a second viewing) involving crystal skulls, lost tribes and El Dorado slows things down a bit. But the arrival of Shia LeBeouf as biker sidekick Mutt, new addition Ray Winstone as double-crossing buddy Mac, and the return of Karen Allen as Indy’s long lost love Marion give the film added spark and give flight to Spielberg’s gift for creating tangible warmth among his actors.
And as one extended jungle action sequence proves, Spielberg’s old school practice of eschewing quick-cut edits (? la the Bourne series) in favor of intricately choreographed stunts offers plenty of death defying, edge-of-your seat thrills.
Cynics may point to the geographical incongruities involving Incan languages and Mayan architecture, and to how Blanchett’s character seems surprisingly one-dimensional given her abilities as an actress. The truth is these are minor flaws in a movie that is meant to be one thing: fun.
And on the fun scale, “Indiana Jones and the Legend of the Crystal Skull” fits nicely alongside the other films in this legendary series. It’s a fit as comfortable as, say, an old leather jacket and a dusty fedora.
Rated PG-13 for violence.