Action Adventure

Review: ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ is a Satisfying Throwback that Stays True to the Spirit of the Iconic Franchise

June 27, 2023Ben MK

One of the most intrepid big screen heroes of all time, Indiana Jones is a character who needs no introduction. From the bullwhip-cracking action of Raiders of the Ark to the supernatural suspense of Temple of Doom and the father-son bonding of The Last Crusade, the adventures of everyone's favorite globe-trotting archaeologist have captivated moviegoers for over 40 years. It's a decades-long legacy that has helped solidify the legendary status of star Harrison Ford, whose name has become synonymous with the role. And now, with Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Ford is donning Indy's trademark fedora and A-2 bomber jacket yet again, as the iconic treasure hunter embarks on one final quest.

Set in 1969, the franchise's fifth installment finds Indiana Jones far removed from his days as one of his field's most charismatic daredevils. A professor at a New York City university for the past 10 years, Indy now spends much of his free time holed up in his apartment, where he has lived alone since the death of his son in Vietnam and his separation from wife, Marion (Karen Allen). Indy's rather mundane and uneventful life takes a turn for the unexpected one day, however, when he receives a visit from his goddaughter Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), who has been on the trail of one of history's most mysterious and powerful relics — Archimede's Antikythera. An independent young woman and something of a liberator of lost artifacts in her own right, Helena hasn't seen her godfather in years. Unfortunately, their happy reunion proves short-lived, as one of Indy's old foes — a Nazi scientist named Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) — has also been chasing after the ancient device.

Still bitter about Germany losing World War II some three decades earlier, Voller has since appeared to reform his old ways, even playing an integral part in sending American astronauts to the moon. What the United States government doesn't realize, though, is that Voller has been secretly plotting his own agenda. And with an American operative named Klaber (Boyd Hollbrook) under his control, the only things standing between Voller and his acquisition of the Antikythera are Helena and Indy. It's a race against time that will take our heroes from America to Morocco and Italy, where the pair must follow the millennia-old clues that will allow them to locate and piece together the two halves of the Antikythera that Archimedes himself disassembled and hid. Once these two halves are finally reunited, however, are any of them prepared for the power that will be unleashed?

Directed by James Mangold from a screenplay he co-wrote alongside Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth and David Koepp, the result arrives a decade and a half after Kingdom of the Crystal Skull left many Indiana Jones fans disappointed. Yet, despite the years separating it from its predecessors, Dial of Destiny has no trouble earning its place as the series' fourth best entry. From the movie's opening action set piece, which sees a de-aged Ford tackling Nazi soldiers in 1939 Germany, to a high-speed cart chase through the streets of Tangiers and a treacherous cave journey to find Archimedes' tomb, there's no shortage of thrilling moments that will transport viewers back to the glory days of Steven Spielberg's first three films. But while Dial of Destiny does unquestionably feel like a classic Indiana Jones adventure through and through, this sequel isn't without its drawbacks.

Be it the obvious criticisms concerning Ford's age or the filmmakers' decision to take the franchise even further into the realm of far-fetched sci-fi fantasy than ever before, there are equally as many reasons against the movie as there are in its favor. Still, what makes this particular installment worth watching is the way it stays true to the spirit of the original films. Suffice to say, audiences looking to rekindle that sense of wonder that helped popularize the series in the first place will find that Dial of Destiny has what it takes. But perhaps the most notable endorsement of all is that it proves to be a far more fitting farewell than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny releases June 30th, 2023 from Walt Disney Studios. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, language and smoking. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 34 min.

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