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Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

average rating is 3 out of 5


Brian Penn


Posted on:

Jul 1, 2023

Film Reviews
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Directed by:
James Mangold
Written by:
Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, David Koepp
Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, Toby Jones

Steven Spielberg has showered many gifts on a grateful film going public. But none quite so exhilarating as the adventures of a certain archaeologist in a Fedora hat. Indiana Jones bucked the '7 plot' scenario of film making as the indomitable hero who emerged triumphant against the odds. For this fifth instalment Spielberg passes the director's chair to James Mangold. Yet still bears the hallmarks of its executive producer and retraces a well-trodden path. But there is always comfort in the things we find familiar. As an unmistakable fanfare hits the ears it already feels like the film event of the year.


The story begins in 1945 as the Second World War is drawing to a close. Hitler has ordered his henchmen to relieve Europe of its finest treasures and artefacts. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is hot on the tracks alongside fellow archaeologist Basil Shaw (Toby Jones). However, Nazi scientist Dr Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) has discovered an artefact with terrifying power. Archimedes' Dial is a time bending device that can change the course of history. The narrative jumps forward to 1969 when Jones re-unites with Goddaughter Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). She is the daughter of Basil Shaw and studying for a doctorate in archaeology. Helena is determined to track down Archimedes Dial with Jones' help. But Indy is not convinced by her motives as sinister forces begin to close in.


All the Jones escapades of old have been faithfully reproduced in a slick new package. From a creaking rope bridge to secret passages and deciphered codes, it all feels reassuringly safe. The opening sequence features Ford enhanced by AI and other visual tricks to make him look younger. And the impact is impressive as at least 40 years have been taken off him. However, the real weakness in this technique is exposed when the story jumps forward and reveals Ford as an 80 year old. Even though he looks in good shape no amount of AI and stunt doubling can alter the fact he is an octogenarian.

But Ford's star quality is undeniable and delivers a solid performance full of panache and attitude. Phoebe Waller-Bridge struggles to build any real chemistry with Ford and seems to lack the presence required for the big screen. An otherwise enjoyable film is undermined by the mis-match between Ford's chronological age and Indiana Jones' assumed age. The franchise should adopt the James Bond model where the character is re-booted by casting a younger actor to play the title role. These quibbles aside it's still great fun to watch. But feels akin to watching a once great live band on tour before they retire?

About the Film Critic
Brian Penn
Brian Penn
Theatrical Release
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