Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Directed by: James Mangold
Distributed by: Searchlight Pictures

Written by Taylor Baker


A ridiculous retreading of a pop culture icon, marinated in just the wrong amount of bad ideas and CGI de-aging. Harrison Ford picks up his hat and whip again to settle some unfinished business started on a train at the end of WWII. Where he and his buddy Basil (Toby Jones) made off with part of an Antikythera mechanism made by the famed inventor Archimedes. We find Ford in 1969; his Jones showing some wear from age, complete with socks hanging on a clothesline and a scene where the perpetually surly Indy confronts his neighbors with a baseball bat for playing their music too loud. Sadly, these moments showing Indy as an aging man in more human moments that build character leave just as quickly as they began, and the film devolves into little more than a poorly executed chase scene.

It’s easy to see why “Dial of Destiny” was greenlit, who didn’t want to go on another adventure with their favorite archeologist? It’s not such a bad idea to build another Indy plot around the machinations of Nazis. It’s not such a bad idea to layer fan service into a movie. It’s not such a bad idea to use de-aging tech. It’s not such a bad idea to build a story around time travel. Sure, none of those things by themselves is bad, but when you take everyone’s favorite archeologist and de-age his face but don’t adjust his physical motion it looks b-a-d, when you pair that with the Antikythera being a compass to a magical time portal in the clouds, and you see Indy in a plane with Nazis time traveling without a sincere sense of stakes or reason, what had barely been held together on good faith falls all the way apart.

There’s a magical quality missing, it very well could simply be the absence of Spielberg. But it  seems that no portion of the film comes together. The sets look like sets, the action choreography is plainly and painfully “choreography”. The risk that we’re to believe Indy is under is distant and unconvincing. There are moments, when Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Helena and Indy have a conversation before the Nazis begin shooting innocents in the head, a nifty underwater scene with newcomer Ethann Isidore, and some generally–fine–scenes with Ford being gruff. It’s hard to believe that a continent spanning, Nazi time travel “Indiana Jones” flick from the director of “Logan,” “Walk the Line,” and “Cop Land” would be boring, but here we are. With a whimper, not a bang, our favorite archeologist hangs up his hat for seemingly the last time. 

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” Trailer

You can follow more of Taylor’s thoughts on film on LetterboxdTwitter, and Rotten Tomatoes.

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