Retirement is for Sissies 

Harrison Ford proves old age is a state of mind in latest Indiana Jones

Rest easy, Indy fans. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is as fun and entertaining as you're hoping it will be. The action, visual effects, acting and story are all up to par, and there are a few unexpected twists that validate the need for Indy (Harrison Ford) to wear the fedora a fourth time.

The year is 1957, and the Cold War has led Russian scientist Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) to kidnap Indy and his friend Mac (Ray Winstone). In Hangar 51 of a familiar-looking military warehouse near Roswell, N.M., Indy and Mac are forced to look for a rare object they discovered 10 years earlier.

After an action-packed escape, Indy returns home and is soon given a letter by Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), the surrogate son of one of Indy's old associates, Professor Oxley (John Hurt). Mutt tells of Oxley's search for the last of 13 crystal skulls, which will grant great power to the person who returns it to its original temple. Because Oxley has been captured by the Russians, Indy and Mutt travel to the Amazon to save the day. Indy's flame from 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), also appears and is as saucy and vibrant as ever.

You might think that at 65 years of age, Ford is too old to play an action hero, but he handles the physicality of the role nicely. Besides, it's LaBeouf (Transformers) who performs the truly elaborate stuff like a Tarzan swing through the trees. It's also great to see Allen again, and the rest of the cast does a nice job of hitting the right notes of campy exuberance, including Blanchett and her not-to-be-taken-seriously Russian accent.

Similar to the Ark of the Covenant (Raiders) and Holy Grail (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, (1989)), the crystal skulls are actual historical artifacts whose truth and origins remain a mystery. It's this intriguing mix of reality and pulp fantasy that's always made the Indiana Jones films a joy. Indy's wisecracks are funny, but it's the way director Steven Spielberg stages the action—without rapid editing so everything is clear—that makes it accessible and fun. In Crystal Skull, which was written by David Koepp (Jurassic Park), a car chase with Irina through the jungle is a stunner, as is a motorcycle chase across Indy's university campus and into the library.

Fans of the original trilogy will also appreciate a glimpse of the Ark of the Covenant, Indy saying "This is intolerable!" as his father (Sean Connery) often did in Last Crusade and a few odes to friend Marcus Brody (the late Denholm Elliott).

In terms of the other movies in the franchise, Crystal Skull ranks just behind Last Crusade—which had a bit more humor—as an entertaining popcorn flick. Raiders is still the best, and then way down at the bottom, beneath the deepest depth of craptitude known to mankind, is Temple of Doom (1984).

So go see Crystal Skull, smile, enjoy, have fun. It was worth the wait.

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