"Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
For over forty years, Indiana Jones has been considered one of the best cinematic characters, with each film pitting him on a hair-raising, wild adventure to uncover lost artifacts and to stop evil forces like the Nazis and power-hungry cult leaders. In his most recent adventure (and seemingly his last) "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny", he now must face foes of his past in an electrifying, fun film that is a great send-off to this beloved character.
The first act of this movie is set in 1944, where Indiana (Harrison Ford) and his colleague, Basil Shaw (Toby Jones), are on a mission in Europe, to retrieve an artifact before the Nazis can get their hands on it. However, when they find out the artifact is a fake and they retrieve a half of Archimedes's Dial instead, Shaw becomes obsessed with the Dial and the power it possesses. During this portion of the film (and one other scene towards the middle of the movie), they use a de-aging CGI process on Ford to make him look like how he did in the first three films, and I honestly think they did an excellent job. I have seen many viewers complain about how horrible the de-aging looks, but I honestly think they're just trying to find something to complain about. I personally think they did a great job, and it was awesome to see a young Indy once again.
Now in 1969, Indy is getting ready to retire from his job as a professor and live a very low-key life. Now that his son was killed in combat which resulted in the separation from his wife, he doesn't really have much to live for anymore. That is until Helena "Wombat" Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) walks into his life once again, who is the daughter of Basil and Indy's goddaughter. She is interesting in the Dial for all the wrong reasons, making Indy travel all around the world and go on one final mission to retrieve both his portion of the Dial, as well as the lost half that no one has found. What he doesn't expect is for old Nazi foe Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) to be looking for the Dial as well, making things much more complicated.
As a whole, this movie just feels like an Indiana Jones film. It is high-octane, action-packed, full of dry humor, and just so much fun. Ford always does a fantastic job of playing the character when he puts on the leather jacket and the fedora, and it is hard not to like his character or enjoy the screen-time he gets. Even at 80 years old, Ford is moving so well and really throws himself into whatever the film needs him to do. Waller-Bridge is a surprise addition to the franchise, and I think she may have brought to life one of the best characters in the Indiana Jones film series. She is a lot of fun, sassy with some great one-liners, and just a really well-written character. Her and Ford have fantastic on-screen chemistry with one another, and I thoroughly enjoyed every scene with them in it.
Mikkelsen is a threatening villain, and of course he does it so well. I really enjoy it when he is cast in the villain role as I know he is going to kill it as that character. Of course he's not the best villain in the franchise, in fact he's far from it, but he is just a fun character to watch combat Indy and Helena. When looking at the side characters, I think Ethan Isidore gives a fun performance as the new child sidekick, Teddy. He is in it for all the wrong reasons as well, but it's interesting to see both his and Helena's character arcs over the movie. There are also a few cameos that are so incredibly fun and very welcomed.
However, there is one glaring missed opportunity when looking at this movie - the character of Mason, played by Shaunette Renée Wilson. Towards the middle of the first and second act, her character starts to receive a lot of screen-time as one of Voller's henchmen basically, but she is against what some of her co-workers are doing. They set her up to be this badass heroine that could switch sides and help Indy, but then she quickly disappears from the film before the movie starts to gear up its main story. They had a huge opportunity there, and writer-director James Mangold and his team squandered it.
For the most part, the story moves at a very nice pace, and delivers on all of the thrills and action you would expect from a film in this franchise. There are some moments that sort of drag and overstay their welcome, but as a whole, it is a thrilling conclusion to this long-running franchise. Just when you think you know where this movie is headed, it completely flips your expectations on its head and does something so wild and bonkers that you would never think of. No spoilers, but the final twenty minutes of this movie are some of the craziest in the entire Indiana Jones franchise.
This is the send-off to the classic character Ford has played for many years, and Mangold has delivered a fantastic and wildly fun conclusion to the franchise. I found myself grinning ear-to-ear multiple times throughout this film, and even found myself tearing up at times throughout the movie due to how it was able to capture that adventure-like atmosphere that was present in the originals. It honestly felt like this film was made for the fans and to give Indy a great send-off, and I enjoyed every second of it.