REVIEW: ‘Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny:’ not with a bang, but a whimper

Harrison Ford leans on a boat in this scene from “Dial of Destiny” (Lucasfilm via AP).

Despite not being a kid of the 80s, I have something of a love for the “Indiana Jones” films. While I am forgiving of some of the stuff that people poke fun at (such as the fridge, I mean come on people, Indy has survived far crazier!), I found that the film lost the soul of who Indy was. Indy was in far more control than what was usual for an Indy movie, where he often has to get out of traps using his ingenuity and guile. 

It has been 15 years since the last Indiana Jones movie, and there were many of us who feared that the franchise would end with a whimper with “Kingdom of The Crystal Skull.” But fear not! They were always going to make a fifth Indiana Jones movie! Harrison Ford and John Williams returned, and even though I was disappointed that Spielberg wasn’t returning to direct, I thought James Mangold would be a good director if they couldn’t get Spielberg back. Is “The Dial of Destiny” a return to form for Indy? A fitting hurrah for our lovable scoundrel? A complete disaster that makes “Kingdom of The Crystal Skull” look like a good film? Well, I am happy to say that it’s no “Kingdom of The Crystal Skull,” but it doesn’t reach the heights of the original three. 

While the trailers were pretty cool, I wasn’t expecting that this film would be a masterpiece. My biggest hope when I was going to see this movie was that it would at least be good and entertaining, and deep down, hoping that there were still some surprises to be found in the “Indiana Jones” franchise. Was it good? Well, yes. I thought that it was an entertaining film at least, and a fitting end to our favorite whip-flailing archaeologist adventurer. But it could have been a lot better. 

One of my favorite aspects of this movie, along with the one that caused me frustration, is its acknowledgement of Indy getting old. He’s tired, and he’s become more jaded and worn down by the world around him. Unlike “Kingdom,” this film remembers who Indy is and why he’s such a cool and interesting character. If Indiana Jones were a superhero, his superpowers would be ingenuity and improvisation. This film goes back to basics in getting Indiana Jones into tight situations where has to use those two abilities in order to get out of them. But considering that Indy is beginning to show the effects of his age, he can’t move quite as fast as he used to. 

At the same time, I wish that Mangold and the crew could have gone deeper in its themes about aging and how Indy lives in a world that he barely recognizes anymore. I was reminded of Mangold’s superhero western noir epic “Logan,” as both films deal with aging and a rapidly changing world that leaves our heroes behind. But I found that “Logan” was more sincere in its exploration of aging and the ravaging of time. There were definitely some great scenes in “The Dial of Destiny,” but it didn’t feel cohesive as a whole. It was rather half-baked, if I can be blunt. 

But not all is lost. Harrison Ford once again gives an excellent performance as Indiana Jones, and it’s nice to see when he’s not phoning it in or being a grumpy old man, he’s actually very talented as an actor. It was also nice to see him be passionate about his role for the first time in a long time. Mads Mikkelson and Boyd Holbrook were also entertaining as the villains of the film, though I found that the latter’s performance was eerily similar to the one that he had in “Logan.” Phoebe Waller-Bridge is also entertaining as Indy’s goddaughter Helena. She’s very much like her godfather, both in positive and negative ways, and her and Ford have some great scenes together. John Williams once again provides a masterful score, and it is a great one for what is supposedly his last. 

Overall, “Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny” is a solid film and a tender goodbye to Indiana and his franchise. It’s not “Kingdom of The Crystal Skull” thankfully, but it doesn’t reach the heights of the original three films. 

Last Crusade still reigns supreme!

Share This