Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny


‘…may not be the Indy we’d want, but as a farewell to a beloved character, it just about gets over the line…’

Since we’re dealing with time travel for the first time in this franchise, let’s get our chronology straight; bearing in mind that 1984’s Temple of Doom was a prequel, James Mangold’s movie is actually the third Indiana Jones sequel. I’ve got fond memories of seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark at the flicks way, way back in 1981; at the time, it seemed quite possible that all future movie-going experiences would be as good as Steven Spielberg’s whip-smart original. If the prequel didn’t quite have the same buzz, Last Crusade took things to a logical male-bonding conclusion, with Jones bringing his father into his endless fray with the Nazis, with chasing world-changing artefacts the goal as always. But interest in the franchise has cratered since the 80’s, not least because the fourth instalment, the Crystal Skull, was a seismic dud on a Phantom Menace scale of seismic dud-ness, jammed full of new characters no-one cared about, shorn of direction, intent or credibility, and showcasing a disinterested performance from the usually reliable Harrison Ford.

So over four decades after meeting Ford as Indiana Jones, a final instalment arrives to finally put the whip-wielding adventurer to bed in the form of a coda. It’s a tradition from the original trilogy to open big, and Dial of Destiny aces that test; faced with certain death, a digitally de-aged Ford fights and defeats his Nazi competition in a WWII race for the dial of destiny via trains, motorbikes and much more for a whopping 25 mins. It looks great, and has a dark, blood-and-thunder mode that makes you wish they’d stuck with this angle for the entire film. We then jump forward to 1969, and Jones has just got his divorce papers from Marion (Karen Allen). He’s old and washed up in sunny NYC, where he crosses paths with his adventurous god-daughter Helena Shaw (posho Phoebe Waller-Bridge, predictably annoying), who is looking for the same dial. After a fun horseback ride through a ticket-tape parade, Jones and Shaw head for Tangiers, then Greece, then…but you’ll have to see Indiana Jones 5 to find out what lies in wait…

But lower your expectations first; while an improvement over the soul-destroying part 4, the second half of Dial of Destiny returns to the science-fiction theme, with Jones and Shaw heading travelling through a fissure in time. Sure, there’s always been plot-holes and incongruities in the franchise, Jones does hold his breath for about eight hours while holding onto the outside of a submarine in the first film, but as with the aliens previously included, sci-fi just isn’t the right feel for Jones. After a fairly tight start, the Dial of Destiny falls apart dramatically as Jones shuffles around in his undercrackers, requires regular rescuing, gets shot, and generally does a whole lotta things that we really don’t want to see. Sure, this is a far better send-off for the character than the previous entry, and Ford has still got it to burn as a leading man, but it’s still not a patch on the original trilogy’s magic.

With a confusing script with features none of the signature wit of the original, and a curious lack of action after the initial flurry, Mangold’s film is going to be a hard sell to today’s young people given that this is a period film that reaches back to serials from the 40’s for inspiration; the appeal of the original was that it used modern techniques to revive old cliches, but in 2023, that boat has flown. Sentiment about Jones and Ford will make this a must see film for fans, but the Dial of Destiny had a huge job to do in aiming to erase the bad taste of Crystal Skull. Still, hearing that huge John Williams score in the cinema, and seeing Ford still cutting around in his hat, jacket and whip should be enough to draw an older crowd; it may not be the Indy we’d want, but as a farewell to a beloved character, it just about gets over the line.

Thanks to Disney for providing big-screen access to this film, out June 28th 2023 in the UK.


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  1. Suspension of disbelief can’t disguise a cartoon-faced Harrison Ford, obligatory, chroma key-blurred chase scenes, a geezer’d hero, and a plot line straight out of an Uncharted video game. Despite some saving grace charm from Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Americans like her), a tense scuba sequence, and the landmark score of John Williams, this $245 million misfire is the furthest thing from Indiana Jones, let alone Raiders of the Lost Ark. Retirement is choosing wisely.

    • I hear you, and while my enthusiasm for the original trilogy is undimmed, this barely passes muster as a coda and a corrective to Crystal Skull, which I hated. Making a 2023 action movie with an 80 year old lead is where we’re at right now, and it’s just not in the same league as the first three. This swan song should have happened decades ago, when Ford was still in top form and didn’t require rescuing like a toddler from the face of danger…

      • Amen, Film-Authority. “Raiders” will still remain one of my favorite movies/film scores of all-time, but this coda, as you say, taints the canon and dispirits our younger audiences (if they even see it). What’s next? Indiana starring in Depend commercials? With whip and hat in tow?

        • I do think it was mission impossible to make another Jones film at this point. We joked about franchises going on forever back in the 80’s, but this really is quite ridiculous…let it go, let it rest, and get in with making good films instead of recapturing past glories that were over four decades ago…

  2. “Private brandy reporting for duty.” Marvelous sequence about the loss of Indy’s son. Chases, clues, Nazis and reconciliation. What more could you ask for? Certainly not time travel. Who is this Archimedes dude anyway? Until the Romans came aboard, I was finding it pretty enjoyable and far more entertaining than reviews had led me to believe. I thought Phoebe Wotsit-Wotsit was excellent. I’ve never seen Fleabag but felt her character really came across, a bit more of a rascal than Indy, but that would be a more contemporary take on an Indy sidekick than back in the day. I was very impressed with the script. I’m not sure what Wotsit-Wotsit had to do with it, but the Butterworth Boys proved their credentials in Le M ans. Quite why it cost so much I’ll never know. And why they thought modern young audiences would be interested in Nazis. And – let me get this straight – Archimedes invented something that he only saw fleetingly when Indy showed it to him, so where did Indy’s come from if Archimedes didn’t invent it. But I liked Indy being seen as old hat by students and colleagues. If this had been a hit, I could see a sequel with Wotsit-Wotsit working well. Any more sequels are clearly off the table now but I hope W-W gets a crack at further stardom.

  3. How does Waller-Bridge’s acting fare, when she’s unable to look straight into the lens, raise an eyebrow and deliver a dry take on the subtext of the scene?

    Did you just see the way Harrison looked at me then pretend like nothing happened… yeah right.

    • I haven’t seen Fleabag, but she certainly has plenty of fans. Being unaware of her work, I was ready to hate on her based on her rewrites of the last Bond movie, but she’s not as bad as I expected. But like Shia LaBouef found out, it’s a mags game playing second fiddle to Indy. She’s just a character you wish would shut up.

      • I think they want her to take over the lead for the future?

        It seems strange that an actress who’s had a relatively modest television success then get’s fast-tracked into a major Hollywood production with the idea she’ll take over the franchise. How do these things happen?

        • That is an accurate summary of how I see it. There’s as much chance of a Shaw solo movie as a solo Bond film for Lynch. It’s an attempt to widen the demographic, and I get why it should be a largely unknown actress to US audiences, Ford has to be the draw. But I ended up feeling sorry for her, delivering flat one liners and generally getting in the way of an Indy movie. I think she did the best she could, the haters will be out in force. But the flaws in the film are far wider than her, there’s all kinds of problems with the narrative that mean her role can’t be saved; she ends up taking too much attention from Indy, and no-one would want to see a character that barely works as relief given their own movie.

          • Perhaps the thinking was to take it in a Tomb Raider direction… female adventurer, ruling class background, English accent?

            • Maybe in someone else’s head, but I promise you, having seen that movie, you’ll never hear of Helena Shaw again…

  4. After Crystal Skull, I just don’t know. maybe when it eventually goes free on prime I’ll give it a go, but my enthusiasm is at about 0 for this…

    • I totally get it. After Skull, I never wanted to see Indy again. That film ruined the character, the universe, the lot. But I’m prepared to show a little forgiveness given that Dial is specifically trying to erase that film and get back to Raiders, which is the right thing to do.

  5. The trailer looks better than your review promises the movie to be, but I think I’ll keep my Indy memories intact, I only saw the first three. But still, maybe, on a Saturday night when there’s lttle else to inspire.

    • If I understand you correctly, you’re saying you never saw the forth one, and for that, I am very jealous. It’s one of these films that you wish you’d never seen…in fact, that’s the first thing I remember saying as I stumbled out of the cinema…

  6. A 25-minute intro? That made me look up the running time. Ugh. 154 minutes. And a budget of $295M. What did that get spent on? I’ll probably check it out at some point, but I can only really remember the first movie now, which really was a lot of fun when it landed in theatres. Seems like everyone has moved on by now.

    • It’s a lot of money to spend on an action movie starring a 80 year old man. But they had to do something after the cultural disaster of the previous one, can’t end a franchise on a farce like that. I suspect Lucasfilm has many hours of unseen Ford footage from Indy and Star Wars, so I’m not sure if that’s digital de-aging or very artfully repurposed shots from previous films, but it’s an impressive way to kick things off for sure…

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