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  • Writer's pictureDenise Breen

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny: Forget the plot holes and dodgy CGI - strap in and enjoy it

3 out of 5

Is it just me, or is it weird to see the Disney logo and fanfare at the start of an Indiana Jones film? I guess I had forgotten than since Disney bought Lucasfilm, it included Indy's adventures past and future as well as all the Star Wars stuff.

Here we are in 2023 with Harrison Ford injecting life into a character than first appeared on our screens in 1981. Whoever thought we would see Harrison Ford donning his old Fedora, leather jacket, and whip again? Harrison Ford was on board from the start and wanted to give playing Indy one more go. After so many delays, COVID, and re-shoots, the fifth film in The Indiana Jones franchise is finally upon us. I confess, I was looking forward to seeing the return of Indiana Jones after all the negativity of the previous film, “Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull,” I felt that anything would be better than that film.

For the first twenty minutes or so, “Indiana Jones and The Dial Of Destiny” is pretty great. This is where we see the de-aged Harrison Ford playing a younger Indiana Jones in an adventure to retrieve another holy relic from the Nazis during World War II. The de-aging process is not perfect, but it’s pretty good. Technology has come a long way since Tarkin in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” There are some minor quibbles with his voice, but sometimes his voice sounds almost perfect.

This is the Indiana Jones we wanted to see: outnumbered and against all odds, using his wits and skills to overcome his enemies and survive. While watching this, I was convinced this movie was going to be so good. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there. Those first twenty minutes were really good.

The plot kicks off with Indy trying to retrieve some artefacts stolen by German soldiers in WWII. The artefacts included a ‘dial of destiny’ constructed by mathematician Archimedes, which can detect fissures in time (it can time travel). We are introduced to Dr Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) who is the archetypal villain of the piece. Indy manages to steal a part of it with his co-adventurer Basil Shaw (Toby Jones). Cutting to the present day in 1969, the now senior citizen Indy unites with Basil’s daughter Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) to collect the remaining pieces of dial to stop Voller going back in time to change the result of World War 2.

The eternal excitement of being Indy is still alive in Harrison Ford, despite all the cracks and creaks he somehow manages to make us believe that he’ll always have it in him. The fact that you’re witnessing a man completing his 40-year journey with the same character makes all of this even more special. He has breathed new life into and concluded the stories of both Han Solo and Rick Deckard, so why not make it a hat-trick and include Indiana Jones?

Phoebe Waller-Bridge stars as Helena, Indy's god-daughter. She seems a late addition into the story. Also, Toby Jones’s Basil Shaw suddenly becomes this important person in Jones’s life naming him as the Godfather to his daughter. All these new connections are new and seem forced and just can’t build any personal connection with the characters or even the franchise. Phoebe’s performance ranges from annoying to amazing, the only positive being that she’s not used as just another prop.

Mads Mikkelsen yet again manages to play a scary character with finesse. He underplays Dr. Jürgen Voller so beautifully because as a mad scientist, anyone could’ve crossed the line but Mikkelsen just stays Mikkelsen infusing fear effortlessly. Ethann Isidore’s Teddy is no Short Round, he’s just an attempt to sketch one more such character but failing at it badly.

It seems Logan wasn’t enough pressure for James Mangold, so he agreed to plan the farewell outing for yet another iconic character. To be fair, with Logan, Mangold had Hugh Jackman at his peak physically & mentally. No offence to Harrison Ford, but you need to mentally prepare everyone to accept someone as elderly as him performing near-fatal stunts without even slipping. Jones does complain about his poor back in a scene but in the next scene, he’s back on the field beating the living daylights out of Nazis or whoever comes his way.

The Fedora, the Whip & John Williams’ score do more for Harrison Ford's swan song than its story and screenplay. Keeping the zest of yesterday alive, Williams as usual never fails to adapt with time delivering an orchestral masterpiece yet again.

I probably don’t have to even mention this, but “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade” had the perfect ending for Indy. We got to see him ride off into the sunset with his Dad, Sallah, and Brody. It was a nice bookend for the trilogy. Then greed reared its ugly head, and we got “Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.” After that disaster, people wanted a decent movie for Indy to end the franchise on. “Dial Of Destiny” is not it and that's a shame.

Ignore naysayers like me. In the end, I just gave into it and let the film take me on the rollercoaster. So, ignore the plot holes, grab a big bucket of popcorn and enjoy the nostalgia. This film will entertain you, and have you longing for the joy of Indy's first adventure.

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