'Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny 'Movie Review: Harrison Ford's Most Emotional Indy

Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller Bridge movie review

Cannes critics lambasted INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY as too nostalgic in early reviews. Isn’t nostalgia one of the reasons we return to movie theaters to watch fan favorites like Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones? INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY is exactly what you expect from the fedora-wearing treasure hunter, but more emotional.

Ford returns for one last outing as Indiana Jones. Indy is forced into another adventure for an artifact that in the wrong hands would mean doom.

After the Harrison Ford movie premiered at Cannes in May, critics decried the James Mangold (3:10 TO YUMA, LOGAN) film as a failure because of his reliance on nostalgia. Since then, YouTubers are having a field day ripping the movie and Kathleen Kennedy without having seen the movie themselves. The hate campaign is reaching an absurd level and it's quite annoying.

First off, Mangold doesn’t make terrible movies, and Cannes critics don’t exactly have a pulse on audience preferences. To base all the negativity on a handful of reviews is ludicrous. After having watched the fifth installment of the franchise, the early reactions are certainly blown out of proportion.

DIAL OF DESTINY opens with a younger version of Indiana Jones on a train fighting Nazis over an ancient relic. Ford's facial de-aging CGI looks seem-less except for one or two iffy frames but only a trained eye will catch it.

That flashback sequence definitely harkens back to classic Indiana Jones. Nazis, the go-to villains, are re-introduced, and Indy’s main nemesis, Mads Mikkelsen plays it low-key but dangerous. Luckily this time the Nazis are not a cartoonish portrayal like the ones from KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL.

What is unique to this fifth outing is the setting in a major metropolis for a small portion of the movie, then the action and buggy chases move to the familiar Middle East backdrop.

Harrison Ford is still in action form although a little slower which the characters acknowledge. The script by Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck adds another layer to Indiana Jones with a vulnerability we have not seen before. In previous incarnations, the loner didn’t mind his solo status but in DIAL OF DESTINY, he ponders his remaining years. Bring some tissues because the ending will certainly inspire some happy tears.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a standout as Indy’s conniving and fierce goddaughter, Helena. Her character’s independence and defiance are reminiscent of Karen Allen’s Marion in the original.

Helena’s teen sidekick, Teddy (Ethanne Isadore) serves no real purpose except for some comedy relief and a callback to Key Huy Quan’s Short Round in INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM.

Mads Mikkelsen’s Dr. Voller is a despicable villain early on. His quiet demeanor only makes him more dangerous. The Nazi scientist reveals his true colors early on in the story when he humiliates a Black hotel worker by asking him what part of Africa he's from implying the worker is not American. That despicable action tells you exactly the type of villain Indy will face. 

Dr. Voller’s henchmen played by Boyd Holbrook brings his usual menacing qualities to a role we‘ve seen the actor play before.

The plot hits the usual beats of an Indiana Jones adventure. The Mangold film plays it safe and sticks to the formula except it brings more emotional depth to Ford's character much like he did with Hugh Jackman in LOGAN. It's a nice send-off for Ford.

INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY is a good film, but not a great one. INDIANA JONES fans will appreciate the film, and Harrison Ford’s final turn as the iconic adventurer delivers on the nostalgia which is not a bad thing in my book.

INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY is now playing in movie theaters.

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