Dial of Destiny

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Disney+ Film
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7

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It's the end of an era as the world's most famous archeologist tips his cap for the last time in Indiana Jones: The Dial of Destiny, a cracker of a movie.

If you want to bring back an iconic character for a last hurrah then director James Mangold is a good bet.

Mangold directed Logan, which saw out the final moments of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in a tale about fading relevance.

The last instalment of the Indiana Jones franchise then – The Dial of Destiny – reignites the nostalgia of origins, whilst very much drawing a line under what it is honouring.


It would be fair to say that the fourth movie, 2008’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, doesn’t have many singing its praises.

It was therefore with great trepidation that I fired up Dial of Destiny (now on Disney+) to see the swansong of a swashbuckling character portrayed by Harrison Ford, now aged in his 80s.

Clearly aware of this, Mangold (along with co-writers including David Koepp) take us on a remember-berries homage to the classic Spielberg Indiana Jones movies.

What Is Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny About?

The opening 20 minutes, (with a digitally de-aged Ford that only sometimes hits the uncanny valley rejection heave) successfully does what Crystal Skull failed to do in two hours.

Nazis! A runaway train! A quasi-magical thing to fight over. Punches! Terrible disguises! Toby Jones!

Warm glow of past pleasure suitably stoked, Dial of Destiny switches to a more morally ambiguous 1969.

Those same Nazis are now working on the U.S. space race courtesy of Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen). Jones’ lectures on archaeology seem redundant in a world where the first humans are about to step on the moon, aided by the very enemies he used to fight.

With the injection of some youthful vigour in the form of goddaughter Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and a cheeky Short Round proxy (a young Ethann Isidore as a Moroccan pickpocket) the core ingredients are well placed for a globe-trotting adventure to unite the two halves of Archimedes’ famed dial, the ‘Antikythera’.

And wouldn't you know it, by trying to get there first the good guys lead the bad guys through all the puzzles. You’d think they’d have learned by now.

It's hard to put a finger on why these essential elements click this time around when they didn’t in Crystal Skull.

Perhaps aliens were too much at odds with the Indy character. Perhaps the shine of another actor hired to be the next Jones wore off very quickly.

The chemistry between Waller-Bridge’s assured performance (in which she certainly isn’t righteous) and Ford’s aggressively protective older Indy is one that sparks throughout.

It isn’t all smooth sailing. Come the battles to just find the map to find the second piece of the dial the run time is bulging at the edges.

Dial of Destiny Official Trailer

Is Dial of Destiny Worth Watching?

Mangold’s direction infuses the high speed chases with wonderful zip, even if Ford’s ability to convincingly run after a fleeing motorbike is clearly not as it once was.

The movie dances around Indy’s age. It wisely holds back from cheap cracks or ageist snideness, instead showing an out of date heroism that has little place in the cusp of the 1970s.

Yet little is made of Indy’s physical limitations. Sure, we can suspend disbelief for the sake of a good pulpy time, but the opportunity was there to acknowledge and work in that Indy must find it harder to keep up the pace or shake off an injury.

Despite a lack of truly outstanding moments, Dial of Destiny succeeds in recapturing the old magic.

Mikklesen is a safe pair of hands for an antagonist, recalling Julian Glover’s turn in The Last Crusade: a reasonable front that hides a snake-like lethality. 

The push and pull between Mikkelsen and Ford as two men stuck in the past simmers nicely throughout, even if the eventual bubble over ending is rather perfunctory.

In this land of incessant franchises that need to make just more content grist for the streaming mill, the ultimate question must surely be: was there any point in making another Indiana Jones movie? Thankfully, this time we can say ‘yes’.

The near perfect run of the original three movies can’t be matched, but Dial of Destiny has something to say and gives you a good time whilst saying it.

Those who want to be enveloped in the pulp-fiction of Indiana Jones can now happily put their feet up and go: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, Last Crusade, and lastly Dial of Destiny to wrap it all up.

What’s that? I’ve missed one? No. I really don’t think I have.

Words by Mike Record

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Good

  • The Spark Is Back
  • Ford And Waller-Bridge Have Great Chemistry
  • Nostalgia Baiting Opening
  • Zippy Action Sequences

Bad

  • Lacks Wow Moments
  • Mid Act Bloat
  • Ford's Age Is Not Really Addressed
  • Unsatisfying Defeat Of Villain
7

Good

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