At one point it looked like Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny was never going to hit cinemas. It was originally due to hit cinemas in 2019, but a number of delays and reshoots scuppered that plan.
Disney finally did it, though. And Harrison Ford is back in the fedora for the last time in a journey that transcends decades and magic all at once – just like any good Indy story.
This time around, he’s hunting down the titular Dial of Destiny – an ancient Greek tablet which, legend tells, has the power to tinker with time.
He has a lot of competition, though. Hot on his heels is the maniacal Dr Voller (played by Mads Mikkelsen), a Nazi who has assimilated into American culture but still yearns to finish the Third Reich’s mission.
On top of that, Indy’s goddaughter, Helena Shaw (a truly exceptional Phoebe Waller-Bridge) has her own reasons for tracking down the Dial of Destiny. Unfortunately, with all these spinning plates, not everything works out well for the movie as a whole.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, like its predecessors, is at its best when the archaeologist is diving into ancient caves, solving riddles, and tracking down lost legends in real-time.
All of the staples of the franchise are there, as well. Indy and Helena quip, provide entertaining visual gags and deliver an endless supply of charm and whimsy that has been found in all four previous Steven Spielberg films.
This isn’t a Spielberg movie, though. Instead, James Mangold takes hold of the franchise, and he does a fantastic job. Other than some dodgy green-screen work and CGI faces, Dial of Destiny is shot beautifully, and you’d likely be forgiven if you thought this was another Spielberg joint.
The entire picture feels as if it is the true next step for the franchise, with enthralling plot hooks, hilarious twists, and knee-slapping action. But, unfortunately, Dial of Destiny fails to do the one thing it actually set out to do: Finish the damn series.
Yeah, we’ve all seen Ford speaking at press conferences and in interviews about how he is done with the franchise after Dial of Destiny (and, really, who can blame him? The Hollywood legend is 80-years-old, after all). But, when it actually gets down to it, the film is too cowardly to actually bring an end to the series.
I’m not saying Indy should or shouldn’t have been killed off (no spoilers here!) but the bloated film only wraps up when the narrative’s emotional core begins to rear its head. And, instead of getting the touching payoff fans deserve, the film – I swear to Kali – fades to black. It’s honestly a little insulting, and painfully dull. Where was the resolution? Where was the final slice of drama?
If we never see Ford as Indy again, it’ll be a crying shame, because frankly his story is not finished just yet.
With that said… there is a lot to love about Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
Raiders of the Lost Ark kickstarted the modern adventure movie as we know it, and Dial of Destiny is a worthwhile continuation of that legacy.
Between Waller-Bridge’s absolutely enchanting performance and Ford’s begrudged, laboured attitude, its protagonists are a match made in heaven. And with a plot that truly had me guessing, it’s certainly one of the better Indy movies ever made. Hell, it’s one of the best movies of the year thus far (although, maybe that’s not saying much).
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is brilliant, intriguing, wistful, and has a touch of well-deserved emotion in it. But it doesn’t go far enough. Indy’s journey isn’t concluded at all – not one bit. Indy, Ford, and us fans deserved a better conclusion.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny hits cinemas on June 28, 2023.