“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”
“Shoot me! Not me!”
Story: It’s 1969, baby! It’s time for miniskirts, astronauts and the retirement of Professor Indiana Jones! Yes, the old adventurer hangs his hat to enjoy his golden years. Or something like that. But then Indy’s goddaughter Helena (aka Wombat) asks for his help in getting her doctorate, which leads them into all sorts of plots. One last ride, baby!
A genre I would put into it: Old School Action Romps
Issue date: 2023
Remake, Sequel, Based-On or Original: Part of the Indiana Jones franchise. The last movie in the series…?
I have to say: When Spielberg created Indiana Jones, he paid homage to the adventure series in the middle of the century. Cunning heroes, daring escapes and plenty of rock ’em, sock ’em action. While A lost ark and Temple of Doom had an undeniable appeal, Last Crusade he started splashing with it Crystal skull a sad end to a once glorious series. “Why couldn’t they have left him well enough alone?” I know; I said the same thing in ’89 and ’08. But I’m here to tell you, Indy is back for one last run, and it’s truly worth your time.
Dial it feels like the most adventurous series (that’s a word) of the series after the second one Temple. Sure, Crusade and Skull there was a lot of action but things felt empty. Little attention was paid to characters and overall plot cohesion, which left viewers like me shrugging and/or bemoaning the state of blockbusters these days. Dial decided to go back to what made the first two movies so much fun; charismatic characters, and the focus is on how they play off each other, and the craziness is the catalyst for each character’s personal arc. When Dial starts, Indy is adrift, trying to figure out what’s next in his life. To him, his legendary achievements are becoming obsolete and seem almost empty as the world rushes towards advanced technology. But Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Helena gets her researcher’s blood pumping again… and of course, when things get really crazy, she starts wiping away the strain.
The opening scene Dial a long one with tons of dialed-back Harrison Ford CGI (quite well done actually) and of course lots of heart-in-your-throat action. The stunt work here and throughout the film is excellent. But this scene in particular feels like it came from there Bark; there is a joy in filmmaking that is missing from later Indy films. It’s as if everyone knows it’s the last hurray, and the cast and crew are giving it their all. As the film switches to the ‘present day’ of 1969, the action is just as intense, with planes, trains and cars all getting used to full effect.
“There are a few moments where things feel a little rushed. A diving scene is exciting but feels rushed as the characters are introduced and then quickly discarded. There is also a car chase scene, which is very Keystone Kops, several groups come and go. But a certain character introduction that seems rather important doesn’t make the cut; his entire group could have been cut with zero effect on the plot, although the scene would have been more “James Bond car chase” than “Indy passion”. So I guess that’s where we’re at. Although it would have been nice to see a quick payout. Maybe it’s just me.
As with the other films in the series, the cinematography and art direction are also impeccable. And it’s good to see—er, hall – John Williams’ score, which is now a character in itself. Harrison Ford is the most amazing 80-year-old I’ve ever seen; maybe this score will keep the pep in your step? I completely forgot how old he was when his Indy was on screen. And the back-and-forth between Ford and Waller-Bridge is natural, if not quite as electric as Karen Allen’s. (And I’m not talking romance here. Just on-screen chemistry. Take your mind off Roman aqueducts.)
I hope that Dial gross big. Not that I want another sequel – please end it here, it’s a perfect ending. But because it’s just entertainment in the cinema. There are no ulterior motives, no deep thoughts. Just fun. And we all deserve a little fun. Go buy some.
#Pro tip: After two and a half hours? Feel free to stand up as soon as the credits roll. There is no mid-credits or post-credits scene. Your bladder will thank you.