Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. NO SPOILERS
Review by William Gensburger
The final installment of action-archaeologist, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) directed by James Mangold (Wolverine), not Steven Spielberg, offers a suitable close to the film series that has run from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), which featured the late Sean Connery as Dr. Henry Jones, Indie’s father, along with the classic line “We named the dog Indiana.” Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skulls (2008), which introduced a son, Mutt (Shia LaBeouf)
‘Dial of Destiny,’ which could have been renamed ‘Victim of Time,’ offers old Indiana, circa 1960s, in one final adventure. And while Harrison Ford is in good shape for his 81 years, the aging credibility of his action movies, especially Indiana Jones, is not lost on the audience.
Young Indy is gone. Much time has passed through all his adventures. The prestigious university where he taught history between adventures has left him and he is now on his final days as history professor at a less-than-stellar college, all too happy to send him into retirement.
We learn that he has experienced loss since the last film, that Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) whom he married, is no longer with him and the days are without purpose.
Into his life comes a young woman on a quest to find the mythological Dial of Destiny created by Archimedes, a device that can affect time, that the inventor split into two to keep safe from evil.
And the evil, once again, are the Nazis, beginning in the 1940s with the main baddie played by Mads Mikkelson whose plans stretch to the present and a chance to fulfill the Nazi dream.
And this is where the film becomes unique as we are shown a de-aged Indiana Jones, created by AI and some movie magic. It is Harrison Ford, as his voice proves, but the young face of a fresh Han Solo/Indiana Jones is the result of AI taking all videos of him from that period and creating a living face. And it’s good, realistic, not like the poorer CGI we’ve seen some years back with Star Wars’ recreated Leia or Grand Moff Tarkin.
The young woman, Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) is related to Indie’s past, as we learn, although she comes with loads of baggage, more a treasure hunter trying to pay off a debt, than an archaeologist, and certainly disinterested in her Godfather; he’s old and has nothing to teach her.
And yet, as the film unfolds, he has much to teach her. Not only is his knowledge voluminous, but all practical skills acquired from a life of living allow him to survive the onslaught as they are forced to find the remaining half of the Dial of Destiny, and discover its secrets before the Nazis.
John Rhys-Davis also returns as Sallah, the loyal friend throughout the films.
There have been many critics of this film. I am not one of them. This is a film about aging, losing the spotlight that once enveloped you. It is about losing people you loved and trying to find relevance in the final years of your life. All that was important in youth turns out to be less so, certainly temporal.
The real values that are left, Indiana Jones discovers, and in the process, changes Helena Shaw from a selfish and impetuous imposter to a woman with a deeper character and understanding of the real gift she has received; her relationship with Indiana Jones.
The ending of the film is poignant, offering hope for the final years of this weatherbeaten man.
And as the camera pulls back we are given one final tease in a true iconic manner. *He’s old, but he ain’t dead yet, kid.*
Cast: Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antonio Banderas, John Rhys-Davies, Shaunette Renee Wilson, Thomas Kretschmann, Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook, Olivier Richters, Ethann Isidore, Mads Mikkelsen
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