HOLLYWOOD—Look, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” from 1984 is one of my favorite movies in the “Indiana Jones” franchise. Harrison Ford, that whip and that iconic fedora established a character that is one of a kind in cinema. The bulk of the movies in the franchise came out in the 80s and early 90s. Then in 2008 we had “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” That flick was a mixed bag for me, not terrible, not great, but I think it was the nostalgia that many people of the franchise wanted to see again. Nearly 15 years later, we have the fifth installment, “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.”
Is this a fun movie? Not quite, I found myself quite bored if I’m being honest. For starters, Harrison Ford is 80, so the idea of him doing these stunts cracking a whip at such an age was just not as believable people. It is almost like something I heard about Tom Cruise doing “Mission Impossible” flicks in his 70s or 80s and it just won’t work. Ford does solid work with the flick, but the narrative is just a bit janky and not as enthralling as previous flicks.
The opening I thought was fantastic and super entertaining, but for those not in the know, that Harrison Ford you’re looking at has been digitized to appear younger. I remember when I first saw the trailer I was like there is no way Harrison Ford looks that good at 80. This is not to say one cannot look that good at 80, it is just rare. I soon found out why I thought what I was thinking.
That train sequence involving Jones (Ford), Basil Shaw (Toby Jones) and Jurgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) was full of amazing stunts and visual effects that had me completely hooked. It was a great way to start the movie which goes back to 1944, before we transition to 1969. The three are battling over an ancient Dial and a lance that have ties to alter time. Yes, with any “Indiana Jones” there is always some ancient item that delivers some special power, and here its time, but time is complicated when it comes to story as I have noted time and time again.
“The Dial of Destiny” suffers from uninteresting characters. I mean the only character I cared about the entire movie was Indiana Jones. The introduction of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, as Helena Shaw, Indiana’s goddaughter, works as we near the third act, not so much in the first and second act. I just wasn’t sold on her being a sidekick to Indy. Why? Perhaps I was just thinking about the previous flick and how the audience learned that Indy had a son, Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) courtesy of his first love Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). Mutt doesn’t appear here and it does leave the audience wondering what happened to Indy and Marion’s son. Well he died in the Vietnam War, and I think that was a cop out to explain the character’s absence.
Look forget the debacle of rather you like LaBeouf or not, he was introduced as a vital character in a previous click and just disappears like an afterthought. We learn Indy has a goddaughter, who he hasn’t seen in years and the audience is just supposed to accept this bond? It doesn’t work as seamless as the writers had hoped, because I didn’t really see the connection between the two until the third act, and by that time I was already over the movie.
Mikkelsen as the villain is just forgettable. He doesn’t come across threatening and he was perhaps the dullest character I’ve seen in the franchise. Hell, I know people disliked Cate Blanchett’s character in the last flick, but at least she was entertaining and a threat people. Voller is just there and has muscle around him, nothing about the character screamed villainy.
The bulk of the movie is Indy, Helena and Voller journeying to capture this dial that can alter time and the big climax of the flick is fun, I enjoyed that, but I felt about 30 minutes of the film could have been sliced away to eliminate some tedium and pick up the pacing for the viewer. Per usual, the Nazis are the big bad of the flick as the time travel element comes full circle in an interesting moment. The one thing the flick does well is give our iconic hero a fitting send off. There are no qualms that Harrison Ford is done as Indiana Jones with this movie. I just wish “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” gave Harrison’s Ford iconic character an unforgettable sendoff, not one that makes you say, “Oh, well.”