Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
A decade and a half after the fourth instalment of the epically successful Indiana Jones franchise polarised critics and audiences alike, the fifth and final escapade undertaken by Harrison Ford’s beloved archaeologist, (and the first in the series to not involve the direct creative input of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, with James Mangold taking the reins), The Dial of Destiny is likely to send the franchise off into the annals of cinematic history with neither a whimper nor a bang, but a slight nod farewell.
The year is 1969, and Indiana is officially old. We know this not from Harrison Ford’s appearance (still miraculously in possession of a chiselled core at 80 years of age), but from the fact that he is rudely woken, and cantankerously annoyed by a party of twenty-somethings blasting The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour at full volume at 8am. His mood is then compounded by the serving up of divorce papers by Karen Allen’s Marion Ravenwood. As Indy prepares to retire from his role as a lecturer of archaeology in New York, his goddaughter, Helena Shaw (a committed, yet somewhat miscast Phoebe Waller-Bridge) barrels her way back into his orbit to enlist him in the search for Archimedes’s Antikythera (the eponymous dial).
Her father, Basil (Toby Jones), who believed the dial could identify and exploit rifts in time, was driven to the brink of lunacy during his quest for it. “Why would you want to go after something that drove your father to madness?” Indy asks Helena. “Wouldn’t you?” she enquires in response, to which the answer should really be, “No”. But this being an epic adventure with a budget of $300 million, the implied answer reads on Indy’s face as “Of course”. And so the wheels are set in motion, and another race to history against the Nazis ensues. Mads Mikkelsen’s Jurgen Völler, a Nazi physicist who has been enlisted by the CIA to assist with the United States space programme, is, with the help of his cartoonish goons, also on the trail of the dial, hoping to use it to rewrite the history of the war. “You didn’t win the war, Hitler lost it,” he snarls at a veteran working as a waiter at a New York hotel.
The rat race unfolds in action sequences that follow the Spielbergian blueprint pretty much to a tee, predictably unfolding in beats, the rhythms of which you could tap your foot to in your sleep. The truth is, for all its chases and brawls, The Dial of Destiny does feel more like the coda to an adventure than the main attraction. But this is arguably part of its appeal, and maybe even its purpose: there are old faces, old themes, old hats and whips that read as comfortingly familiar cinematic antiques. It does push into some intriguing, strangely moving territory as it unfurls into its final act, however, while the performances from Ford and Mikkelsen are effortless. This is the kind of stuff that they pull out of their arsenal on a whim.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is released nationwide on 30th June 2023.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2023 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny here: