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‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ Ends the Franchise on a Low Note

Photo Credit Lucas Films/Disney

It seems like nothing can stop Indiana Jones from returning to the big screen for another globe-trotting adventure. Not the age of Harrison Ford – who is now 80 years old. Not the changing film landscape or the fact that Spielberg wasn’t coming back to direct another entry. Not even incredibly divisive fan reception of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. So, Indy once again returns for another adventure with in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and maybe proves why this should be his last run on the big screen.

The film sees Indy (Ford) – now retired and far from his days of adventuring – sucked into another treacherous endeavor facing familiar friends and foes. Although Indy is reunited with his goddaughter, Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), he also re-encounters Dr. Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) – a Nazi scientist who lost a piece of a precious dial to Indy at the end of WWII. However, even though Indy’s reunion with Helena is full of warm vibes at first, he eventually comes to realize that Helena has motives of her own surrounding the dial. So, Indy once again finds himself in another dangerous adventure with a mysterious artifact that holds the potential to change the course of history.

Dial of Destiny gets off to a weird start with a trip into the past that doesn’t feel warranted and has some perplexing elements – namely some glaring uses of CGI. It’s not shocking or surprising that scenes with Indy in flashbacks use a de-aged Ford since he’s noticeably older now and it’d be tough to use makeup to make him younger. However, the CGI is just distracting and, honestly, not that great. Plus, they don’t change Ford’s voice enough in these scenes, so you’re essentially seeing a younger Ford speak with the crackly voice he has now. It’s just something that’s hard to look past and really creates this off feeling from the start. Not to mention, there are plenty of weird logic oversights and plot contrivances seen throughout the opening that really get this adventure off on a weak foot.

Still, though, there are some fun action moments that show that director James Mangold understands this franchise’s style, and the feel and scale of the action grows greatly throughout the film. The tense chase sequences that see Indy try to navigate through chaos are incredibly enjoyable and instill a thrilling, adventurous feel. While the fight choreography and sequences definitely reflect that this film features an older Indy, it still doesn’t treat him with kid gloves. Dial of Destiny continues the franchise’s trend of providing incredibly fun action that makes for a fun theater trip.

In terms of the film’s story and characters, though, Dial of Destiny is a mixed bag. Ford coming back as Indy will definitely be a big treat for fans – especially given that this is an older and more disillusioned Indy. There are parts of his past that he doesn’t look back on as fondly and personal tragedies he’s suffered that weigh deeply on him. It’s not as emotionally deep as what Hugh Jackman and Mangold did with Wolverine in Logan, but fans will still connect more personally with Ford’s performance here and the Indy they get. There are some really strong personal conversations Indy has with Helena about his losses and an ending reunion that’ll leave fans with warm hearts.

As for everyone else around Ford’s Indy, there are some hits and misses. As always, Mikkelsen knows how to be a stern on-screen villain and the later reveals of Voller’s actual plans are very unexpected. Also, Ethann Isidore’s performance as Teddy is solid, as he gives the group a youthful spark. Outside of that, though, this cast of characters is vastly undercooked. Even with some talented supporting players like Waller-Bridge and Boyd Holbrook in the mix, the supporting characters generally feel one-dimensional, underwhelming, or just plain frustrating. Despite Waller-Bridge having some funny lines here and there, Helena’s constant flip-flopping becomes over-played and tiresome. Her money-hungry mentality makes her such a bore to be around, and she doesn’t hold enough emotional value or connection to Indy to make her a meaningful part of this adventure.

Although Voller’s plan does make him more interesting than the typical Nazi scientist, Mikkelsen doesn’t really bring anything special to the role to make Voller have a more unique villainous personality. His lackies are equally as forgettable and don’t add much to the film. As for everyone else, they play whatever miniscule role they have that barely makes a real impact and are cycled out of the film as quickly as they’re introduced.

Dial of Destiny also underwhelms in its story. It feels like it’s telling a standard Indy story rather than doing something new or meaningful – which is a shame since this will likely be the last time fans will see Ford as Indy. Generally, the direction of the adventure feels straightforward and even when it tries to add in some sudden turns, they aren’t big enough to revitalize the experience. This lack of spark and reinvention just makes this adventure feel so generic – which is not what fans want to hear for an Indy finale. More importantly, when Dial of Destiny gets to its big finale, the film just becomes ridiculous.

Seriously, if fans thought the whole extra-terrestrial twist of Kingdom of Crystal Skull was weird and dumb, the finale of Dial of Destiny is even more unbelievable and bonkers. It’s where the film nearly falls apart because there are so many gaps in logic and Indy has a puzzling desire that just feels so out of character and unusual. Plus, the ending just doesn’t do enough to really make this ending for Indy feel special or try to end the franchise on an emotionally gratifying note.

As a whole, Dial of Destiny is a decent summer blockbuster that checks the marks in bringing an all-time classic role back onto the big screen and delivering good action thrills. However, it doesn’t live up to the legacy of Ford’s time in the role nor the franchise’s impact in pop culture, meaning that it’ll simply be seen as an underwhelming and uneventful finale – which is a damn shame.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny hits theaters June 30th.

Tom Moore
Tom Moorehttps://mooreviews.com/
Tom is always ready to see and review everything horrifying and hilarious that hits theaters, television, and video games...sometimes. You can check out his other reviews and articles on his blog, Mooreviews.


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