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Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Movie Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film

SUMMARY

As the final installment in the Indiana Jones film franchise, The Dial of Destiny fulfills most of the expectations of its predecessors with an action-packed series of events spanning the globe and Indy and company try to prevent an ancient time-travel machine from becoming reassembled to change the course of modern history.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Is 80 now the new 50? This is the question posed by the fifth and final installment in the Indiana Jones franchise, as octogenarian Harrison Ford reprises his iconic screen persona of the world-traveling archaeology professor with a knack for finding ancient objects possessing mystical powers. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opens in 1944 during the final phase of World War II. Indy and fellow archaeologist Basil Shaw (Toby Jones) have been captured by Nazi soldiers while trying to obtain the Lance of Longinus, allegedly the tip of the spear that pierced Jesus’s side. While the artifact turns out to be phony, physicist  Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) has found half of the legendary Archimedes’ Dial, an ancient time-travel device.  After a bomb destroys the church where Indy is about to be hanged, he escapes,  boards a train carrying Basil and a car full of antiquities and secures the Dial. The pair leap to safety before the train derails on a bridge struck by Allied bombers.

It is now 1969, and Jones is separated from his wife Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), still mourning the loss of their son Mutt in the Vietnam War.  Indy has just retired from his faculty position at Hunter College when Basil’s daughter and Jones’s godchild Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), an aspiring archeologist, meets him after his final class ends.  Indy tells her that the Dial had been split in half and that her late father spent the final years of his life trying to discover its secrets.Before he died, Basil made Indy promise to destroy it.

When Jones and Helena retrieve the Dial half from the university storeroom, they are attacked by henchmen hired by Voller, now working for NASA as “Dr. Schmidt.” Helena flees with the Dial and plans to auction it on Tangier’s black market. Jones travels to Tangier but before Helena can auction off the Dial it is taken by Voller and his men. This theft kickstarts an international race to retrieve the artifact as Indy, Helena, and her young sidekick Teddy Kumar (Ethann Isidore) pursue Voller. Aided by Jones’s deep-sea diver friend Renaldo (Antonio Banderas), they retrieve a tablet from a Roman wreck in the Aegean Sea containing directions to the other part of the Dial, hidden in Sicily’s caverns of Dionysus where Archimedes was buried. Once there, the three find the artifact but Voller captures Jones, reassembles the Dial, and reveals his plan to return to 1939 and kill Hitler so a better leader can lead Germany to victory in the war. It will take a supreme effort by Indiana Jones, Helena, and Teddy to thwart this evil plan.

  • Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)
  • Shaunette Renée Wilson in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)
  • Boyd Holbrook in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)
  • Mads Mikkelsen in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)
  • Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)
  • Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)
  • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)

While CGI effectively recreates the much younger Ford in the opening WW II sequences, for remainder of this film, the actor looks very much his actual age, but still fit enough to make the action fight-and-flight scenes appear credible. And there is no shortage of the latter, be it the train fight at the beginning, the car chase through Tangier, the watery race to Archimedes’s grave or the derring-do aerial sequence in the villain’s airplane, they still manage to generate the kind of visual excitement that is a trademark of the Indiana Jones franchise. It is refreshing to have Ford paired with a very strong and proactive young woman in Phoebe Waller-Bridges’s Helena who sports a potent left hook.

Not quite a by-the-numbers redo of the previous films, all dealing with antiquities, there is a sensitive treatment of this aging hero whose life is now devoid of his profession, wife, and son.  In this respect, new writer-director, James Mangold (Ford v Ferrari) pays homage to the past but makes this film his own creation while his screenwriting team adds some nice twists near the end. And by way of spoiler alert, there will be a couple of significant characters returning from the earlier installments. If you, like myself, go to the cinema to be entertained and taken out of the less pleasant aspects of contemporary events, The Dial of Destiny will certainly fill that bill and then some. If this was Harrison Ford’s last appearance as Indiana Jones, it more than succeeds in all respects. Highly recommended.


Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is now screening in local theaters


  • Rating Certificate: PG-13 (for sequences of violence and action, language and smoking)
  • Studios & Distributors: Walt Disney Pictures | Lucasfilms, Ltd. | Paramount Pictures | Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English
  • Run Time: 154 Mins.
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Director: James Mangold
  • Written By: James Mangold | Jez Butterworth | David Koepp | John-Henry Butterworth
  • Release Date: 30 June 2023
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As the final installment in the Indiana Jones film franchise, The Dial of Destiny fulfills most of the expectations of its predecessors with an action-packed series of events spanning the globe and Indy and company try to prevent an ancient time-travel machine from becoming reassembled to change the course of modern history. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Movie Review)