Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a reasonable farewell for Harrison Ford’s iconic adventurer
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Featured Image Credit: Disney
Harrison Ford’s final outing as Indiana Jones is a zippy and lively popcorn adventure that serves as a reasonable farewell to the beloved adventurer.
Over four decades have passed since Ford, 80, made his big screen debut as the whip-cracking, fedora-wearing archaeologist in Raiders of the Lost Ark, which sparked a franchise now spanning five films, novels, comics, video games and a TV series.
The new film begins in 1944 during World War II, where Indy finds himself captured by the Nazis. Ford was de-aged for the opening sequence and while it’s quite impressive for the most part, at some points it does look a bit precarious, like a Snapchat filter (which have actually come a long way since the classic dog filter circa 2015.)
Mostly set in 1969, we see Indy in the present living alone in a cramped apartment next to belligerent youths as his neighbours. He’s retiring from his teaching job at New York’s Hunter College when student Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), who is also his estranged goddaughter, turns up and reveals she's trying to get a hold of an artefact which is said to hold the power to locate fissures in time.
Helena is Basil Shaw’s whip smart daughter who wears funky scarves and silk blouses and who initially comes across like a generic teacher’s pet, but we soon learn she’s a brutal con artist.
Waller-Bridge – who started acting in short films and created the BBC Three comedy Fleabag - is surprisingly fantastic as the film’s co-lead and is definitely convincing as an action star in a big blockbuster.
Helena forces Indy to go on one last globe-trotting adventure, which leads to a spectacularly filmed tuk-tuk chase set in the streets of Tangier, Morocco.
One of the best things about James Mangold’s direction is you can see all the action because of the lack of the ‘shakey camera’ technique. All the sets and costumes are so vibrant - it’s still the swinging sixties after all.
One hilarious scene involves Indy riding a horse which gallops through the tunnels of the New York City subway, which is very silly, but also the only reasonable excuse for severe delays on public transport from now on.
The dial everyone’s after is basically a time travelling device which can send someone back into the past. This is something Nazi Dr. Vuller (Mads Mikkelsen) wants, as he states: “You didn't win the war, Hitler lost."
If you hadn't guessed already, if he gets his hands on it, it could change the course of history.
It wouldn’t be an Indiana Jones film without a menacing villain chasing after the titular character and here we have Jürgen Voller, a Nazi who now works as a physicist in the US space program. Mikkelsen is always outstanding as the antagonist and the new Indiana Jones film is no exception.
A lot is riding on the fifth film. Not only is it Ford’s final stint as Indy, it comes at a time with film studios are obsessed with nostalgia and reviving older IP to get butts on cinema seats.
While Dial of Destiny has its fair share of references to the past, it’s never overwhelming, nor does it feel like a memorial to the beloved character. Perhaps the film’s biggest crime is the ending, which is sweet, however the four screenwriters – Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, David Koepp and Mangold – dangle a profound finale above our noses and snatch it away for an ending that is quite tepid.
Still, audiences of all ages will find something to like about the film. Farewell Indy, you’ve been incredible.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is now in cinemas worldwide.