Growing up the adventures of Indiana Jones were what made this kid fall in love with movies. Harrison Ford was larger than life in the role, the international missions took me to places I had never seen, and for years this franchise was regarded as one of the best trilogies in cinematic history. Then came Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a maligned film that was a body shot to the Teflon image of Indy. Hollywood’s nostalgia train now brings us Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, a film in seemingly good hands with James Mangold directing. And despite a close to 80-year-old Harrison Ford returning I was optimistic and hopeful this movie would take me back to the glory days of the whip slinging hero.
Sadly, that was not the case. Dial of Destiny begins strongly with a flashback sequence set in the 40’s with a de-aged Harrison Ford. This train sequence launches the film out of the gate more than effectively. However, when it ends, the energy, the pacing, and the intrigue of this movie fall off drastically. This film isn’t all bad though. Despite his age Harrison Ford is great once again in the role only he can play. Sure, the story has him doing more than a few ridiculous things but it’s to be expected. During the quieter moments of the story on the other hand is when Ford is really able to land his charm and admittedly it was fun to see him back in the jacket and hat.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge was also effective for the needs of her role as a shifty woman with her own motives. There’s a serviceable chemistry between Waller-Bridge and Ford for the needs of the plot. But that’s where the glaring issues with Dial of Destiny begin to show themselves. The generic progression of the story, and its over bloated runtime are a downer. You can predict where this story will go for the most part, as well as the character arcs so there isn’t really anything compelling to grab onto when the action is not in gear. This story could easily be told in under two hours but instead many scenes run long, and the pacing is fatiguing.
Now there is a lot of action in this movie to compensate for spots of this bland story. There are some admittedly cool sequences, but there are more over-the-top ones that don’t really work. And all of them are hindered by murky visuals. The visual stylizing of this movie opted for a washed-out antique look, and it didn’t work for me. The film almost looks like it’s 3% out of focus and with added lens flare effects, Mangold’s vision for Dial of Destiny felt like a blend of Spielberg and Abrams and not necessarily in a good way.
The villains are as basically constructed as the plot progression and the result is a movie with little to no impact from the bad guys. Both Mikkelsen and Holbrook have played versions of these characters before, there isn’t really anything unique about them thus you never fear for the heroes and subsequently never really care about this mission that in itself feels too familiar to many other movies we see these days. With a ridiculous final act that completely lacks satisfaction. All of which was a disappointment, I think Dial of Destiny is clearly aimed at my age group, those of us who grew up loving the adventures of Indy. But outside of a few moments of charming nostalgia this feels like an unneeded entry in a franchise that should have retired after The Last Crusade.
Cast: Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antonio Banderas, Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook, Mads Mikkelsen, John Rhys-Davies Director: James Mangold Writers: Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, David Koep, James Mangold Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Running Time: 154 minutes Rating: PG-13 (For sequences of violence, language, smoking) Year: 2023 Language: English Genre: Action/Adventure
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2023 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.