I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 30

Day 30: Indiana Jones and the Pointless Betrayal

You may have noticed during my recount of the film's dire jungle chase sequence that I rarely describe the actions of Ray Winstone, Indy's treacherous sidekick, who was along for the ride. Then again, you may not have noticed, given what an entirely superfluous and irrelevant character his is. Well, I'll fix that oversight and fill you in now, because it's time to cover yet another one of Ray's totally irrelevant attempts to betray Indy.

During the chase Harrison Ford leaps into the same Ray is in and takes the opportunity to beat him senseless, what with the betrayal and everything. Between punches Mac manages to convince Indy that he isn't actually working for the Russians but is rather a double agent working for the CIA. Of course, Harrison Ford would have to be an idiot to believe this, so it should come as no surprise to anyone, given how the character's been portrayed for the rest of the film, that he accepts Mac's story right away. Indy allows Ray to tag along with them as they drive off a cliff and then ride their tiny metal boat down three successive waterfalls, the last leg of the trip before reaching the valley of the Crystal skull.

It's here that Mac betrays Harrison Ford yet again, this time by dropping a small radio tracer that allows the Russians to follow him using a tracking device. We see Mac drop a tracer at the island our heroes washed up on, inside the cave that leads to the valley, and then finally at the base of the pyramid that stands at the center of the valley. In theory, this allows the Russians to figure out where the heroes have gone so they can show up at the least opportune moment, right at the end of the final showdown.

There's just one problem with this betrayal, and it's not Mac's motivation -- he's not enough of a character to have one. No, the problem here is that this specific betrayal suggests that the Russians need Mac's help to find the valley of the crystal skull, which makes them them look even more incompetent than the rest of their bumbling already did. Each of the tracers provides no assistance to the Russians that couldn't have been given to them by simple common sense.

Let's look at the tracers one at a time. The first one we see Mac drop is at the bottom of the waterfall. This one kind of speaks for itself, I mean seriously, the last time the Russians saw Indiana Jones, he and his pals were floating down the river towards a series of water falls. Even the most basic of reasoning skills would allow the Russians to figure out where Indy had gone. Assuming, of course, that they had heard of gravity. I don't know what Russian schools in the 40s and 50s were like.

The second tracer is admittedly a little more plausible. Unless of course any of the Russians had even a passing familiarity with deductive reasoning. Or say, if one of them were, you know, psychic. The second tracer allows the Russians to find the cave that leads to the valley. This one might have been necessary had the cave's location not been so amazingly obvious. Put yourself in the Russians' shoes: you've just arrived at the bottom of three waterfalls and you know the entrance to the valley of the Crystal skull has to be somewhere nearby. Here are the options of where to look for it.

1)The vast jungle.
2) A sheer cliff face.
3) A rock formation that looks uncannily like a skull with water pouring out of its eyes, whose gaping maw leads to a mysterious cave.

Have you figured out yet? What if I gave you an additional clue that the Russians were in possession of? According to John Hurt's mad ramblings, the next marker leading to the Valley would be "A crying skull". The cave doesn't even feature a maze of any kind that the Russians need to be led through with Tracers. It's just a straight march through it and out into the valley.

The third tracer is, by far, the most ridiculous. How ridiculous? Upon exiting the cave Harrison & Co. see that up ahead, in the otherwise completely empty valley of the crystal skull, there's a giant pyramid. Again I'm going to have to plead to your common sense here. If you found yourself in that situation, where would you think the ancient city of the gods was? Yet again, Mac feels the Russians are far too idiotic to figure this out on their own so he drops yet another tracer for them to follow.

I'd like to give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt here, and assume that it was the character of Mac who was the stupid one who went around dropping utterly useless radio tracers for absolutely no reason. I'd do this except the film goes out of its way to show the Russians actually using their receiver device to follow the tracer signal. So much as we might wish it to be the characters who are at fault, the only logical assumption is that no, it's the filmmakers who are idiots.

Rather than give the audience the slightest bit of respect, or assume that they have just the tiniest bit of intelligence, the filmmakers were so afraid that people would be confused when the Russians show up in the temple of the crystal skull that they went and overexplained everything.

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