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Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny


“We play the broken string of our instruments one last time.” - John Green

Within the last roughly twenty years we’ve had an 80’s action hero resurgence with Stallone and Schwarzenegger, Ford and Gibson and many others. In just eight short years we’ve seen the return of Rick Deckard from Blade Runner, Han Solo’s final Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs and now, for the final whiplash and last minute hat grab, Harrison Ford stars as Indiana Jones for one last bow in the Dial of Destiny.

Our heroes are getting old but before they go they’re giving us one last journey into the land of nostalgic adventure and epic ass kicking. Our beloved Indy is eighty years old and going strong but even the professor of archeology knows that tenure isn’t literally forever. Retirement stares him down but before he succumbs to sleeping in late and drinking Metamucil before bed, he has one last adventure left in him and it’s going to be a good one if he has anything to do with it.

Blade Runner 2049 was dripping with hype and it surpassed it in just about every conceivable way. That is a rare feat to put it mildly. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is being billed as Indy’s final escapade so to say there’s expectations for what’s in store would be the understatement of the century. I think the one obstacle that any new Indy adventure was never going to overcome was nostalgia. While the concept can be revisited or replicated it can almost never be exactly as it once was simply because then it was the 80’s and now, well now it’s just not. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just a fact of reality that our fondest memories of our cinematic heroes will forever have their greatest quests in a long since passed era of sweaty fighter pilots, giant, threatening rolling boulders and Austrian bodybuilder commandos.

We all wanted the greatest Indy adventure yet but unfortunately as we’ve discussed it rarely ever works out that way. When you think of trilogies like Back to the Future it’s widely agreed upon that the first is best but without the other two it just wouldn’t feel complete. I think the original three Indy movies are in the exact same order with Raiders as his best but never without Temple of Doom and Last Crusade too far behind. Crystal Skull, whatever you may think about it at least still features the charm and bravado of Indiana Jones. While so much better than Crystal Skull, Dial of Destiny is in the same kind of boat. It never quite fully scratches the 80’s itch like the original three obviously do but it does manage to capture commendable amounts of nostalgic memories of what was and how lucky we are to see this character do his thing one last time. And at its most basic achievement, it’s just great to see Harrison Ford, one of the last great silver screen heroes, still able to show off his goods as a leading man. One day, sooner than we would like, he’ll be gone so it’s the here and now that we have to cherish not just his great roles from our youths but to grasp what he has left to share with us.

Dial of Destiny takes cinema’s, and real history’s greatest villains, the Nazis and once again puts them in the path of Indy and his ever continuing effort to preserve history and its artifacts. Through tremendous computer effects, Indy begins this particular journey in his mid forties in an epic opening scene aboard a Nazi riddled train headed toward their Führer with the artifact that could alter time itself. After numerous encounters, Indy comes through triumphant and so the artifact, the infamous Dial, also known as the Antikythera, created by Archimedes himself, was hidden away for more than forty years. As with all things of the past once hidden away, it all comes back to tempt fate once again and force Indy to journey back to a time he thought long since forgotten in hopes of saving an endangered future.

Along his journey he encounters a long lost family member when his goddaughter, Helena Shaw brings him into the fold of her misguided journey to discover the whereabouts of the dial and sell it for a large sum of money. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a highlight of the movie acting as both an adversary of Indy and when it counts most, his best hope of defeating the tick-like Nazi scum once and for all.

Ford is born to play this character but it’s obvious that time has caught up and that his best hat and whip days are long behind him. He seems tired at times feeling like an obligation to play Indy rather than wanting to give him the best send off possible. But thankfully these moments are intermittent and far outweighed by a clear, gleeful willingness to say goodbye to a character as important to him as he is to us. As he punches and runs and drives and groans all set to the euphoric soundtrack by the legendary John Williams you can’t help but tear up a bit. It’s impossible to forget that this character, on screen for the final time, is a pop culture icon constantly imitated but never matched in his popularity, charisma or scope. Indy and the man that plays him is lightning in a bottle never to strike again.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a solid, albeit safe final outing for our titular hero with the classic hat and whip, two inanimate objects almost as famous as the hero that wields them. Ford and company at the guidance of director James Mangold deliver the best we can hope for and while it’s not exactly a perfect landing, I think we can all be grateful we got to see him do his thing one last time for old time’s sake. Thank you, Mr. Ford.

Rated PG-13 For: sequences of violence and action, language and smoking

Runtime: 154 minutes

After Credits Scene: No

Genre: Action, Adventure

Starring: Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, Boyd Holbrook

Directed By: James Mangold

Out of 10

Story: 7/ Acting: 9/ Directing: 8/ Visuals: 8


Buy to Own: Yes


Check out the trailer below:

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