It’s not often we get a final send-off for a film franchise that extends over 40 years and gives us all a taste of adventure. However, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is exactly that movie and is the fifth and final installment of the Indiana Jones series, bringing an end to its legacy. We find ourselves in the midst of World War II as Indy attempts to secure an infamous dial created by Archimedes and keep away from the Nazi regime. The mission ends in success and we fast forward to the 1960’s where Indy has retired as a professor as well as an adventurer, putting most of his life behind him. It’s not until someone from his past pulls him back into the world of adventure as they seek to retrieve the mysterious dial once more and keep it out of dangerous hands.
If we took a majority of all the things that made the original Indiana Jones movies problematic, you would get a movie like Dial of Destiny. If we kept the stories focused on historical adventure while beating down on the true villains of the world, you would still get a movie like Dial of Destiny. Ultimately, this film is a callback to original films of the franchise that started in 1981 as it captures the pure essence of adventure. While it’s not done perfectly, the film attempts to do better by removing aspects of the franchise that have not aged well by any means.
We see the introduction of characters like Helena and Teddy, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and newcomer Ethann Isidore, along with Mads Mikkelsen as our villain. Helena is the type of character that screams “supporting women’s wrongs” as she quickly steals the show of every scene she is in. Ultimately, Helena serves as a reminder of the past but also a positive challenge for a changed Indy. Meanwhile, Teddy’s character feels like a sidekick that is just barely reminiscent of Short Round from Temple of Doom. While he doesn’t have the same charm as Short Round, it’s his mischief and quick thinking that makes him a valuable member of the team. And finally, Mikkelsen is the perfect villain that fits in neatly in a story about a man desperate to change outcomes of the past.
Harrison Ford, on the other hand, is exactly how we’d expect him to be: cranky, exhausted, and wanting solitude but also unexpectedly in a state of grief. With some characters missing, it’s through him that we understand where they are or aren’t, which only further fuels his choices throughout the film. But as mentioned regarding Mikkelsen’s performance, a major underlying theme that is discussed through Jones is the concept of wanting to go back in time and change what has already happened. The film takes it a step further by slapping us all in the face with the harsh reality that what happened cannot be changed for pure convenience and comfortability. It is each of our individual responsibilities that we accept the events of the past, move forward, and do better.
Unfortunately, Dial of Destiny is not without its issues. Much of it stems from the off-putting CGI utilized to de-age Ford and Mikkelsen for a good chunk of the film. In a scene that lasted as long as it did, the de-aging begins to lose its convincing elements, if it ever had them to begin with. In the end, it leaves the audience with jarring images that don’t feel real at all and with voices that are blatantly mismatched from the beginning. In a world where we are obsessed with the idea of celebrity doppelgängers, it’s difficult to believe the same could not be done here to rectify such a bizarre attempt of de-aging CGI.
And without giving much away, regardless of the legacy of its stories and characters, it’s disheartening to see a continued use of brown-face in a film released in 2023 for the sake of nostalgia. In a time where representation is everything and studios are being pressured and pushed to cast appropriately and do right by characters of color, it’s a bizarre choice to bring back a supposed fan-favorite character despite its problematic history when other options were available. All that can be said now is that it’s important to call attention to these instances and continue to put pressure on studios.
Overall, at its core, Dial of Destiny is a well-made send off to a decades long franchise featuring a beloved character that will not be forgotten. If Harrison Ford didn’t solidify his place as two memorable characters in Hollywood, he certainly has now. And while the adventures of Indiana Jones are over, there’s no doubt that they’ll be talked about for generations to come. And with that, so long Indiana Jones and thank you, Harrison Ford.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny receives 4 out of 5 Samosas.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is now playing in theaters.
Runtime: 2h 22m
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