Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny – the fifth film in the series – is action-packed with a Harrison Ford who logically can barely keep up with it all. He finally hangs up his hat and whip, but before this happens he takes us on one more journey as archaeologist Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr.
Ford still has it
Harrison Ford is now almost 81 and still starring in some of the greatest film productions imaginable, as of course he used to. That makes him a true legend for me personally, and for a lot of other film fans. The fact that he too is getting a day older does not diminish this at all. In fact, it makes the acting performances he delivers in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny even better.
Ford still has the same charm he had forty years ago, while still managing to perform many of his stunts himself. This even resulted in an injury for the star actor at one point during production. After a fight scene with Mads Mikkelsen, Ford injured his shoulder. Needless to say, then, Ford is an old man. Secretly a little too old for Indiana Jones, which also secretly makes the film a little redundant. Still, we thoroughly enjoy this film, which has to be carried mainly by Ford and Mikkelsen. For those two alone it is worth a visit to the cinema.
The opening scene feels like a classic Indiana Jones scene, but also a bit like we imagine ourselves in the world of 007, James Bond. As in Skyfall, the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny features battles taking place in and on a moving train. An ideal setting for great action scenes, as Indiana Jones has many. By the way, the film does open immediately with the best action scene, because just like in Spectre, after the intro sequence the action mostly goes downhill.
Director James Mangold’s experience comes in handy with this kind of footage. Previously, he made such films as Logan, The Wolverine and 3:10 to Yuma. Then you would think he would be able to handle the massive Indiana Jones franchise as well. Overall, then, he does quite well. As I said, the action is generally really fine, but we do miss the real genius of Steven Spielberg. With Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the quality was already deteriorating from the first three films, and again, this just doesn’t feel quite the way we got to know Archaeologist Jones in the original trilogy.
Remarkably, Harrison Ford does not look as old as he actually is in the opening scene. In fact, the actor has been computer-edited, as we previously saw happen to the Star Wars character Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian. In the meantime, it seems that Disney has improved the technology a little further, because it really looks incredibly realistic how Harrison Ford is portrayed in these scenes. It brings up nostalgic feelings, while at the same time you have a little doubt that they should have done this.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a bit on the long side for a simple action film. The film gets off to a flying start, but doesn’t always manage to hold the tension over time. This is mainly due to the fact that the plot is not always interesting and the cast is not equally strong across the board.
Phoebe-Waller Bridge’s character in particular regularly gets on the nerves. She plays Helena Shaw, the daughter of Basil, who in turn was a friend of Indy. Her motivations in the film, combined with how she interacts with characters around her, make for a strange sensation. For example, Ford’s character believes that treasures belong in the museum. Shaw, an archaeologist herself, prefers to sell objects to the highest bidder. Actually, she is more like an irritating thief, while being portrayed as a potential successor to Jones. Let’s hope this is not the eventual case.
Besides being a nostalgic trip, the film is further saved by a fantastic soundtrack by John Williams, someone you can always rely on. Williams, of course, is also known for the brilliant pieces he created for Star Wars, but the theme songs that pass in Indiana Jones are almost as legendary. When the well-known songs sound through the speakers, I cannot suppress a little bit of goose bumps.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is an action-packed film with Harrison Ford (despite his age) and Mads Mikkelsen on top form. The opening scene is reminiscent of a mix of Indiana Jones and James Bond. Director James Mangold does a good job, although it lacks the genius of Steven Spielberg. However, the film is a bit too long and the plot and cast are not always engaging. Phoebe-Waller Bridge’s character gets on the nerves at times. Fortunately, John Williams’ soundtrack is as fantastic as ever and brings out plenty of nostalgic feelings.