Hit Me Indy, One More Time

This wasn’t a movie that I sought out. But, it seemed the best of rather slim pickin’s at the local Redbox. Perhaps two days of raging influenza fever has softened my critical skills somewhat. So be it. I liked this movie more than I expected I would.
Lucas & Spielberg did an admirable job of keeping the genre flavoring of the original three movies. They capture the sort of serial-adventure stories that I myself have never really seen much of. High drama. Lots o’ action. And of course, the unspoken that good is going to triumph over evil. While this movie didn’t have the same ‘gee whiz’ effect on me that the first one did (I didn’t care much for the second one, and only saw the third one in the last couple of years), it was still surprisingly good entertainment.
Yes, Indy is showing his age, and that’s appropriate. I should be so vigorous at 65. Is it unbelievable? Sure. But documentary reality is hardly what you ask for when you enter a film like this. The question becomes, do they do a reasonable job of making it believable – and yes, they do.
Cate Blanchett is over the top as the villainess – but that’s expected, overdone accent and all. Karen Allen feels like she’s trying to channel the Karen Allen of 1981, which is unfortunate, as it would have been interesting to see a little more emotional development and maturity alluded to. Shia LaBeouf is a nice addition to the series, deepening the Indy mythos while providing a convenient heir should anyone wish to take up another installment. From the closing scene of the film, though, it’s clear that we shouldn’t be too convinced that this is the last one for Harrison Ford.
Harrison Ford is the driving force in this film. Everyone else is basically eye candy of one sort or another, foils for witticisms and cynicisms. But he demonstrates an increasing awareness of his accumulating years. As his dean exclaims, “We’ve reached the age where life quits giving you things and starts taking things away.” Indy is a little less cocky than he was 25 years ago, and nobody plays the reluctant or uncertain hero as well as Ford.
Politically, while the film is steeped in the Cold War hysteria of the 1950’s, it’s a hysteria none-too-distant from the War on Terror hysteria of the 2000’s. We’re slow to learn lessons from history, whether it’s the fear of Russians in the heartland, or al-Quaeda.
I find it interesting that in all of the Indy movies, the final demise of the Bad Guy is always brought about by a supernatural force. Religious forces in Indy 1-3, and now extra-dimensional beings in Indy 4. In any case, the meting out of justice is always in the hands of some greater power. Accomplishing what man cannot – or will not – do on his own, justice is delivered. Evil is crushed. While we may culturally drift in a relative morality that leaves us hamstrung in addressing core issues of good and evil, whatever powers may be beyond us have no such limitations. And oddly enough, we don’t feel as though they’re being unfair or totalitarian or unreasonable when they deliver justice. We recognize it for what it is. Meet. Right. Salutary. At all times, and in all places.
Perhaps more philosophers should watch these sorts of movies. And a fair number of theologians, too.

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