Indiana Jones and the Scandalously Absent Plot

What a disappointment. I had been so looking forward to the new IJ movie. For 19 years. If movie makers have to cut corners somewhere, the plot is definitely not the thing that should go.

While there were some undeniably well-done set pieces, I failed to see any reason for anything that happened. Just one chase after another.

The thing that irked me most, however, was that it was played for laughs. Rather than the laughs arising out of an excellent script. It was deliberately cast as an action comedy rather than an action adventure. It felt like it was a parody of Jones of old, with a knowing glance at the irony of Pirates of Carribean to try to make it appealing to a younger generation. If the 20 year old church apprentice who came with me is anything to go by it fails miserably on that score.

It occurs to me that the excellent pseudo-historical adventures of Lost Ark and Last Crusade are much more natural settings for adventure. The Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail are plot objects of gravitas and the historical setting rich in connotation. And as well as architypal plot objects it had architypal villains. Swapping this for a pseudo-sci-fi setting lost the rich connotation and rendered the plot objects and villains weak because they lacked the architypal nature needed to make a Jones movie a success.

It did make me think, however, how much richer, how much more exciting, how much more resonant history, especially biblical history (or, in the case of the case of the grail, pseudo-biblical myth) is than sci-fi. And I am a sci-fi fan. Where sci-fi speculates about who or what we might become, history is about who we are, what we are and why we are. I love the line Beloc (the baddy) utters about the Ark in Raiders: "Jones, we are merely passing through history. This is history."

That's a line with weight that was noticeably absent in the new outing. Pity.