How often had you heard that Lucas, Spielberg, and Ford, had all wanted to do another Indiana Jones movie, but were looking for the right story? Many years went by. Then, when they finally began filming, my expectation was that the script was pretty impressive. I finally saw INDY 4 recently, with my brother and his family… and I was led to think ‘This was the script they had been waiting 20 years for?’ Even my two nephews (8 and 10) were disappointed, proclaiming it “stupid” and “dumb” respectively. However, for someone who once knew a Russian femme fatale, Cate Blanchett’s performance and accent were both excellent.
Unlike many others, I was initially excited about the Area-51/Roswell, angle… Space-aliens plus archeology isn’t a weird stretch if you were into Chariots of the Gods as much as I was when I was 11 years old. In fact, when I heard that the movie was going to be set in the late 1950s, I’d hoped they were going in that direction. But what a cock-up they made of it all….
But that nerdy stuff aside, the biggest disappointment was the character Indiana Jones himself. In the original Raiders of the Lost Ark, he was one of the more human action heroes; far from invincible, he got knocked on his arse, time and time again, and we knew he felt pain. He also showed fear, not just of snakes but of other things too. Indy was heroic and yet not bullet proof, and that was one of the likeable things about him. 20 years on, continuing that human quality to its logical conclusion as the character ages, I’d hoped Indiana Jones would deal with not being able to do the physical things he did in his 40s. Imagine if Harrison Ford could have brought to this role some of the sprightliness that Sean Connery showed in playing Indy’s father at a similar age? In Last Crusade, Henry Jones senior brought down a Nazi warplane with a thoughtful popping open of his umbrella… and so, THE actor that defined all subsequent cinema action heroes, back in the 1960s, was shown to have aged, gracefully and wittily, 20 years on. Not to allow 65 year old Indy to adapt to his old age in a similar way was a real missed opportunity, and once again, George Lucas overlooks the great ideas that he himself has already had…
Instead, at the age of 65, Indy ridiculously trades relentless body blows with men less than half his age. While Indy the character seemed strangely superhuman, Harrison Ford the actor had never looked so tired and lifeless, perhaps because he was largely CGI (computer enhancement is Hollywood’s new plastic surgery). Ford used to be able to convey charm, and could play scenes with a twinkle in his eye, but these days, he is just dour and stolid. PLUS, what was up with what my 8 year old nephew called “those special effect prairie dogs” ?
Thankfully, due to my super-power of reading the hidden signs (that are not really there) I just found a new way to look at the INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL and redeem the time spent watching it and rekindle my love for the character. In my reading of the film, Indiana Jones actually died in the nuclear bomb blast, early in the film. When he pathetically hid in the fridge, he was resigned to dying, and die he did; horribly, and alone. Everything that follows that event, in the film that we see, is an addled fantasy passing through the cooking brain of a sad and elderly lonely man, dying in a radioactive blast. In those few time-dilated seconds, we, the audience, are privy to Indiana Jones’ vision of the life he might have had; connecting with an old flame, a woman he loved, and finding out that he actually has a son with her (but it’s Shia LeBouf: even in fantasy, there is horror). However, after that nuclear bomb blast, Indiana Jones was in purgatory for the rest of the movie.
I know I was.Prometheus. Ridley Scott