Indiana runs into a desolate neighbourhood to try and escape the Authorities… There is silence everywhere, and then, a Fallout siren. He has just walked into a mock-up estate for nuclear arms testing. After creakily dashing around a house with 15 seconds till detonation, he happens to find a ‘Lead Lined Refrigerator’. Clambering in, the bomb goes off… a series of CGI sequences later, and a fridge whizzes over the landscape, safely miles away from the bomb site. Then, un-scathed, out rolls Indiana, who thinks nothing of the event and walks off. Welcome to the latest rendition of Indiana Jones – a story of impossibilities, Tarzan impressions, falling down several waterfalls in succession unharmed, using CGI to create death-defying sequences, and realising that you’re a dad in the middle of a quick sand pit!
It’s the late 50’s and a typical teen who appears to be the product of the Baby Boom era (named ‘Henry’… add Junior and you get the idea already) warns Indie that he is wanted by the Russians for the sake of his knowledge. Already just released from Area 51 due to ‘helping’ said Russians obtain a mysterious crate, Indiana and his new pal Henry catch a plane to Peru. Apparently, this is where they need to go…
The first half this story is a mix as to what is relevant and what isn’t, along with some terrible mumbling and lack of direction. If the film was consolidated appropriately, 1hr 50 minutes could easily end up 50% less given the first half of the story is Indie and young Henry confused as to whether they should run away from a group of scary Russians or help them. But if that’s not enough, the story is stuffed that little bit more with the addition of ‘Maryanne’ (Indianas ‘bit on the side’ from the other films) in some vein attempt to give the film a purpose alongside its predecessors. Turns out it does – Henry is their Son!
But this families antics are confusing if we are to assess what they are trying to achieve. One minute Indie harks on about a language that humans haven’t been able to understand for 3000 years, and in a later scene he miraculously translates a manuscript of the same language. Aside from such unforgiving anomalies, there is no clear direction or plot apart from the search for a Crystal skull.
It is only in the final third of the film that we realise he is trying to put this mysterious crystal skull in its home. Why?
Indie: No, I have to do it.
Mary: Why do you have to do it then?
Indie: Because it told me to. (in robotic drone)
Ahh well, that’s very appropriate. Cue a finale that goes beyond any standard expectations from an ‘Indiana Jones’ story.
If you look on this film as entertainment, then it probably does an ‘OK’ job, disregarding the fact the previous three films were utter classics. But even then as I’ve explained, the progression of the story doesn’t make too much sense. This is mainly because there are few themes that relate to the older Indiana films, meaning that the romanticism has been lost and overshadowed by current affairs rather than the underlying value of what Indie was looking for, shown perfectly in ‘The Last Crusade’. As he explained himself in that film, his was the discovery of truth, and that was the treasure in itself.
In this film, he learns nothing except that he’s too tired to go bumbling around jungles one minute, then sailing down gigantic waterfalls the next.
I didn’t feel any urge to discover what our mystical Crystal Skull should do or where it belongs, mainly because I was too busy laughing at events such as Indie’s car that drives off a cliff and onto a huge branch. The Russians also appear dumb and lack any descent involvement in fight scenes, apart from constantly missing Indiana with gunfire even when he is out numbered 5 to 1. The CGI also has a tendency to compromise the traditional look of the story. Just because such technology is available doesn’t mean that you can avoid multiple deaths in real life, and perform laughable stunts to get away from the “pigs” rather than using that thing in your head…
As the saying goes, life is a road trip. It’s ok to look back – just don’t bother driving back, as things will never be the same.