“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” is directed by James Mangold and stars Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, Toby Jones, Antonio Banderas, Boyd Holbrook, and Ethann Isidore.
The film follows Indiana Jones (Ford) who embarks on a journey to retrieve the Dial of Destiny that could have catastrophic consequences if it lands in the wrong hands. Accompanied by his goddaughter Helena (Waller-Bridge), Indy will soon find himself in a situation where he can single-handedly change the entire human history.
Complete transparency here: I just recently watched the entire franchise a few days ago for the very first time. My only knowledge of the franchise was from pop culture references and word of mouth from friends and family. So I have no nostalgic connection to Indy and wasn’t too eager for this entry.
The movie opens with an action sequence that introduces the Dial of Destiny and its significance. We see a young Indiana Jones (sometimes distracting thanks to the overwhelming use of de-aging) as he attempts to acquire the Dial of Destiny along with Basil (Toby Jones) from Jurgen Voller (Mikkelsen), who at the time was a Nazi.
The first 20 minutes are nonstop action and engaging sequences that immediately suck you into the world of Indiana Jones. The problem is that the other two hours are a mixed bag.
I won’t say whether or not this movie should have been made. Does it add any substance or necessary meaning to the franchise? Probably not. Does it present itself as a potential farewell to such an iconic character? That’s debatable.
Let’s start with what did work for me. Ford continues to offer a strong and believable performance as Indiana Jones. Does he look a bit slow and slightly tired? Sometimes! They even use that aspect of Indy’s age for comedic purposes while also reminding the audience that his time for adventures may be soon fading.
Waller-Bridge as Helena Shaw (Indy’s goddaughter and Basil’s daughter) was great! It felt like she fit in this world and her relationship dynamic with Indy is what made this film watchable. Her character isn’t the most likable, but her action sequences and dramatic scenes were equally superb. The story wasn’t groundbreaking but it achieved its purpose.
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Now, when I mentioned earlier that the opening sequence was great but there were still another two hours of film to sit through, I meant to say that the pacing felt too dragged out that by the third act, I had already given up. The overall performances are all strong, but it’s the pacing and storyline that places this movie in a pile of action-filled archeological popcorn films that doesn’t stand out from others within the genre.
Ultimately, this entry feels like another attempt to earn money off a franchise that’s beloved by many. Don’t misinterpret me, there are franchises that have successfully added sequel after sequel and made the franchise substantially stronger for it. “John Wick: Chapter 4,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” are some successful entries released this year that come to mind. So the formula exists, it’s just a matter of using the right variables to execute success. The run time doesn’t help either, clocking in at 142 minutes.
Overall, “Indian Jones and the Dial of Destiny” has some engaging action sequences and a potential conclusive storyline for one of the most iconic characters in cinematic history. But the pacing, the run time, and overall story prevents the film from any potential rewatch, and it pains me to say this but maybe this gem of a franchise should be left alone or better yet, placed in a museum.