Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny – REVIEW


Over forty years after his debut as the iconic character Harrison Ford finally bows out in this his fifth film in the increasingly inaccurately described trilogy that was intended to draw to a close with the Last Crusade.  Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny keeps to the template of those 1930’s serials where back to back set pieces sees our hero in seemingly impossible situations and right from the start those set pieces begin starting in 1939 in a Nazi occupied castle with Indy ( a convincingly de-aged Harrison Ford) helping his friend and fellow archaeologist Basil (Toby Jones) get hold of a much sought after artefact that the Nazis are bringing back for Hitler. It’s where we also get to met Dr Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) who, along with Basil, realise they have a piece  of the famed Dial of Destiny, the films McGuffin that, similar to the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail and the crystal skulls drove the plot of the previous films.  It’s an excellent and thrilling extended opening sequence that sets the tone of what should follow.

But, much like Cher, Ford can’t stay de-aged forever and the film picks up in 1969 setting the era with a blast of The Beatles magical mystery tour waking up Indy in an era now more excited about space travel where the astronauts are about to be feted in a grand parade through the streets of Manhattan. Indy is now on the verge of retirement and in the throes of divorce from Marion with the collapse of their marriage owing much to their son Mutt – Shia LaBouef whose character is mercifully absent.

With the parade having started we meet his long lost god daughter Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) the daughter of the now deceased Basil and a strong willed woman but actually something of a chancer with a talent for making maximum money for the minimum of effort – a sort of 1960’s version of Meghan Markle – and helping Helena is a Teddy, a sharp witted street urchin.

The Dial of Destiny is that which was invented and built by Archimedes and a kind of earliest prototype of modern day computers but which is believed to hold a particular power which Dr Voller, now working for NASA, wants for nefarious reasons. So what we have is a series of almost back to back set pieces challenges as the three pieces that will make up the Dial of Destiny go back and fore between Indy and Dr Voller and his goons. It builds to the climactic moment when the Dial is finally assembled and what follows is arguably even more preposterous than that of Crystal Skull.

This fifth film has been a long time coming and there’s nods to what’s come before. The opening sequence on a train is that at the start of Last Crusade, Teddy is Short Round revisited and those pesky Nazi’s never seem to leave Indy alone. Phoebe Waller Bridge, a proven sharp witted savvy writer , here plays what is in danger of becoming her usual strong independent minded woman but is perhaps the least likeable of the franchises leading ladies including Alison Doody’s and she was a Nazi! And Antonio Banderas is an unnecessary bit of casting that momentarily takes you out of the film. Mads Mikkelsen is as good as expected although there are moments when he looks like Harry Potter has gone rogue and joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party,

That said this is a suitably fitting send off for Harrison Ford who gives indy a sense of a man who has done his bit for archaeology and is looking to step back from the adventures he’s been embroiled  and it’s a fine performance making Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny a fitting send off.

related feature: What Harrison Ford really thinks about his two most famous roles….

related feature:  ‘Con Air’ director Simon West talks about Nicolas Cage and the making of the film

Here’s the Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny trailer……


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