There comes a time when every franchise feels like it needs to come to an end. Many argued Indiana Jones, one of cinema's most iconic heroes, should have hung up his whip and fedora after Kingdom of the Crystal Skull introduced aliens to proceedings. That isn't the case though and Harrison Ford is back but this time there's no Steven Spielberg at the helm, and it really does show in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

Daredevil archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) races against time to retrieve a legendary dial that can change the course of history. Accompanied by his goddaughter, Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), he soon finds himself squaring off against Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen), a former Nazi who works for NASA.
Now, James Mangold is hardly an unknown director tasked with directing a farewell for Indiana Jones, his stellar work with Logan showcasing he can deliver an emotional send-off for an icon. With that in mind, this film misses the effortlessness of Steven Spielberg in delivering such playful and dynamic adventures in this franchise. Indy, played by a very game Harrison Ford, is an old man now and the action follows suit in being rather lethargic throughout. There's tuk-tuk chases and time-bending flights but there's no feeling to the majority of it, underwhelming in their execution.

The film actually opens with an impressive prologue set in 1944, a de-aged and disturbingly soulless Ford taking on a train full of Nazis. It's exciting and sets a pace for the film to follow however, the rest fails to live up to the mark. The best Indiana Jones films have come when he's facing off with the Nazis but that's not the case here, a nonsensical narrative, that really could do with some hefty cutting, crawling to a sluggish ending that just feels so underwhelming. Throw in some annoying new characters and returning favourites shoe-horned in, and you have yourself a very frustrating film.

Talking about returning favourites, John Williams is a name that needs no introduction. The theme for this character as iconic as it gets and he returns here with a score that really is a highlight of the film. Spielberg, Ford and Williams together feel like a bit of an unstoppable trio however, when you take one cog out of the machine, the faults start to show.
The film's greatest strength is Harrison Ford's performance in a role he clearly cares the most about. I always felt it was between this and Han Solo but, as far as I'm aware, he's never said he'd kill himself about returning to this franchise. You can feel the passion he has for the character and he's certainly giving it his all in this final outing. Phoebe Waller-Bridge makes a bit of a splash as Helena Shaw, Indy's goddaughter who shares an interest in archaeology, just not for the same reasons. While she shares a decent chemistry with Ford throughout, she did become rather grating the further into the film we got. Then there's Mads Mikkelsen villain of the piece, a Nazi hell-bent on correcting past mistakes of his former leader. Mikkelsen has great screen presence in almost everything he's ever in but the character just feels rather drab for both Mikkelsen and the franchise. If Indy is to have one last adventure, surely he deserves a better villain. 

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny ultimately left me feeling deeply disappointed. As a lifelong fan of the franchise, it's a shame to see this iconic character go out with a bit of a whimper. The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull might have annoyed people by bringing aliens into it all but with the wild swing they take in this film's finale, it actually threatened to derail the whole damn thing.

Verdict: ★★½


Popular Posts