Written by Old Bluffer 30th May 2008
Mac is a rogueish East-End wideboy archetype, so Ray Winstone has to really go outside of his normal acting comfort zone to play him.
He's apparently been in many close scrapes and escapades with Indy, who therefore treats him as a trusted friend.
This proves to be completely naive of him, as Mac is all to eager to betray him early on in the film. It seems loyalty means nothing when recruited by a foxy Russian and promised a share in a city made of solid gold.
As a result of this weaselly behaviour, Indy ends up getting captured and recaptured several times during the chase for the film's MacGuffin (the Crystal Skull), and is of course fairly unhappy about it. He vows that when he gets free he'll punch Mac on the nose, which he does, repeatedly.
Mac is fairly aggrieved by this retribution, and finally reveals that in actual fact he is a CIA double agent, working to expose Irina and her gang.
Again, showing a woeful lack of perception as to his friend's character, Indy takes this at face value which means the lying Mac can accompany him to the final mayan temple, dropping tracking devices for Irina to follow him with.
[We should take a small amount of time here to point out that the Crystal Skull has powerful magnetic properties, which are later revealed to work on gold too. Quite why this is doesn't matter in the slightest, but the gold attracting thing will (possibly) be used later on.]
En route through the temple, Mac's greedy eyes alight upon the motherlode of ancient artifacts. There are literally priceless relics from every ancient human culture, known and unknown here. So, while everyone else is concerned with replacing the Crystal Skull, reviving aliens, watching Irina die and then escaping from the crumbling temple alive, Mac decides to load up with a modest pile of treasure. As part of this plan, he puts a heavy gold torque around his neck.
We're now at the climax of the film, such as it is, and there is a fair bit of mayhem going on. The temple isn't collapsing in a normal way, it is spinning around, faster and faster, and opened up an inter-dimensional vortex (John Hurt's character was pretty entertaining whilst he was mad, but now that the aliens are awake, he has become sane again, and is much less fun cast in the role of an Explainer, so it's from him that we learn that the aliens aren't technically from outer space, but from another dimension).
The vortex is doing what vortexes generally do in such situations, and is sucking everything into it, whilst the humans desperately try and get away. Indy has to be shown to be a thoroughly heroic good egg all of the time though, so lingers back to save Mac, even though he knows by this time that he betrayed him again. He uses his whip to try and pull the cockney rascal to safety, but Mac for some reason tells him "I'll be OK". This isn't even close to being true though, and the vortex sucks him into the portal, where he's unlikely to survive for very long.
Now Mouseburger assures me that the reason he got pulled into the portal despite Indy trying to pull him out was because of the gold necklace he'd blagged earlier. I have to confess though, I didn't see that myself.
Regardless, the unsubtle moral was clear - if Mac had been made of richer moral fibre and not been fannying around picking up treasure he would have survived.
Once Mac is dead, Indy and pals are free to escape to high ground, and watch an enormous flying saucer burst up from the bowels of the temple and then blast off into a dimension presumably occupied by Mac's corpse. Excitement factor: not very much.
This was a pretty weak death and I've therefore awarded it our "unsatisfying" category. Dying because of your lust for treasure is a staple part of an Indy film (eg: Mola Ram, Walter Donovan and even Irina a few minutes before, but this one felt more like an afterthought by the film makers. It would have been nice to see Mac squirm a bit as he realised he was doomed, and if this is to be the last death in a proper Indy movie, well, it really just wasn't very good.
Old Bluffer's Thoughts
Lucas Spielberg decides to take our money again with a half arsed story that rips off the plot of an episode of Stargate, badly.
Firstly, don't believe any of the pre-release hype about CGI only being used where absolutely necessary, as, predictably, this is soon shown to be nonsense. Many of the stunts are overblown and lacking in any sense of wonder, in that special way that only computers can provide.
I can honestly say there were absolutely zero plot surpises in any moment of this film. Everything was telegraphed or belaboured to such a degree that I never felt any cinema magic. My thought processes were pretty much "the crystal skull is alien, any moron can see that / Yeah, he's obviously your son / cue plenty of unfunny familial bickering / there's going to be a token fencing fight any minute and it's going to make me cringe / Russian Cate Blanchett is going to appear round about *now* - and then get almost immediately killed by aliens / Ray Winstone is going to get his commeuppance / hmmm, I thought a space ship would appear out of the temple but it didn't, oh no, there it is!"
Now this wouldn't *necessarily* be a bad thing, if each sequence was an enjoyable ride, but I'm genuinely sad to report that it isn't. There are far too many lazy, protracted chases, and token explorations of ruined temples that all look the same and which lack any kind of drama. I was moderately entertained, and did chuckle a bit, but whether this balanced out the many cringe inducing moments I'm still not sure.
Now I'm already braced for the predictable comments for this review, mostly boiling down to "But... it's Indy!". This is true, and I can't deny that it is at first very cool to see Harrison Ford back in The Hat. This feeling just doesn't last though, and it is the fault of the film, pure and simple, not the actors.
To put it into perspective though, KotCS is nowhere near the nadir that was the Phantom Menace, so you're never going to feel actual rage at the film makers - just the heavy disappointment of yet another example of a missed opportunity. Objectively, I give the film maybe 6 out of 10, but when you're hoping for so much more, that's still a pretty poor experience.
So, to preempt the protestations from people that insist the film should just be treated as a simple bit of fun, I'll make my point very clear: This was conceived over many years, had an unlimited budget and yet is still nowhere near as good as the first two films, and is arguably a fair bit worse than the third. This can be illustrated by the total absence of any one scene that people will still be talking about even next year let alone ten or twenty years in the future. "Raiders" had the truly iconic and much loved opening scene, the Cairo Swordsman death, Ark of the Covenant and plenty more, "Temple" had Mola Ram's ritual heart extractions, monkey brains, rope bridges and crocodiles. Not as iconic as Raiders perhaps, but still highly memorable. My opinion on the Crystal Skull on the other hand, is that nothing will linger on in popular memory, other than the fact that it is the worst in the series.
The one positive thing I honestly thought I'd be able to say before I went to see this, was that at least the music was good. Incredibly though, they even managed to sully one of the most stirring themes ever composed by using it for the sappy ending - as the backing for Indy's wedding. This was the final kick in the knackers for me, and I left the cinema feeling as if I'd paid for a roller coaster ride and instead ended up meeting Superman retired in his dotage, trying to sell me life insurance. The message in that once-classic melody was clear : they may as well have been playing it at Indy's funeral, as his life is well and truly over, and all he has to look forward to now is incontinence and cynical film reviews...
Bonus Fanboy Trivia
If you sit to the end of the credits, Sean Connery appears as a nebulous jedi ghost with Yoda and E.T. "Tired and old your son is." says Yoda. "No more adventures will he have."
Sean looks mischevious: "Perhapsh, old friend. But... there ish another..."
As the camera pans out, we see that E.T. is holding the crystal skull, and then a motor cycle roars cinematically into the screen - it's Mutt, and he's wearing Indy's hat!