Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Directed By James Mangold

Starring – Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen

The Plot – Experience the return of legendary hero, Indiana Jones (Ford), in the fifth installment of this beloved swashbuckling series of films. Finding himself in a new era, approaching retirement, Indy wrestles with fitting into a world that seems to have outgrown him. But as the tentacles of an all-too-familiar evil return in the form of an old rival, Indy must don his hat and pick up his whip once more to make sure an ancient and powerful artifact doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, adult language and smoking

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny | Official Trailer – YouTube


Small victories materialize as a result of this being a far superior film to “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, both in properly channeling the essence of the Indiana Jones franchise in tone and intensity, as well as bringing James Mangold in for a freshly innovative direction that flourishes in nearly every technical component that the film can muster. In terms of action, it’s easily the most exciting and tightly constructed sequences that we’ve seen since “The Last Crusade”, harvesting spine-tingling urgency and overwhelming vulnerability in a series of sequences that conceptually push the envelope with the kind of creative versatility in all elements of land, air, and sea. Mangold seamlessly immerses us in the danger and anticipation of every environment, with blanketed sound design, cerebral cinematography, and razor sharp editing that abruptly stings a resonating impact towards every devastating blow, all the while refusing to sacrifice clarity in capture for artistic invasiveness that pays off in spades continuously throughout. Equally integral is Harrison Ford himself not sleeping through a role, like he has with some other iconic character reunions, this time imbedding Indy with an internal agony and external vulnerability that both stem as a result of age and loss that conflict without necessarily defining the character. For that, Jones’ adventurous spirit still spins an endearing indulgence that wholeheartedly illustrates the passion that Ford has for the character, and when combined with series newcomer Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who is physically and psychologically smashing as what feels like Indy’s female counterpart, rounds out an organic dynamic between them that has worn the wear of many miles across time traveled between them. This bond, as well as the narrative that the film follows is anything but perfect, but it does contain more cohesiveness than I was expecting from a script with four writers. While the outline feels familiar in terms of the direction that follows a very expected path through exploration, the material’s darker moments offer some unsettling surprises towards Indy’s life since we last saw him, and with the parallels of Ford’s own mortality moving into the twilight of his career, one can’t help but feel charmed by this being the proverbial walk into the sunset for both him and his iconic character. To that front, the film’s ending, while a bit too clean cut for all that it sets up and stacks, is pleasurable enough, especially in two specific images that not only feel like the culmination of the distance traveled with this character across five films and forty years between them, but also Hollywood’s indulgence of never say never, with regards to the legendary hat and leather jacket coming out of retirement once more. Lastly, I would be a fool if I didn’t talk about John Williams iconic score, and its impact and impulse towards the integrity of the finished product. At the remarkable age of 91, John still commands emphasis in the depths of every scene or sequence he exceptionally accompanies, with crystal clear instrumentals that inscribe slight deviations in the memorable compositions that we’ve all grown up adoring, but without taking the kind of creative liberties that would keep from summoning the same inspiring spirit on his audience. Like Ford, this franchise would be nothing without Williams, and I’m glad he was able to return once more to brandish his irreplacable impact to the integrity of the character and surrounding world.


As to where “Dial of Destiny” is a better sequel than “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, it’s still nowhere near the level of the original trilogy, thanks to the continuation of some effortless indulgences that sank that 2008 film to forgettable waters. For starters, the film is still cloaked in the kind of C.G.I constructs that continuously broke my concentration towards the backdrops and set designs they’re attempting to emulate. Sure, they’re much improved from that 15 year predecessor, especially since this was garners with its presentation a darker hue during scenes that help it to evade the telegraphed strings of its artificial obviousness, but the de-aging process, with its coldly emotive captures, as well as lifeless green-screen backdrops, are still miles from where they properly should be, and considering most of this franchise blooms these beautifully detailed set designs, the ones here simply can’t measure up to tradition. Beyond the C.G, the script also isn’t free from error, as the entirety of the supporting characters aren’t properly illustrated or even depicted with the kind of magnetism that makes any of them the next Radio. That last statement specificially points towards Ethann Isidore’s Teddy, whom we not only learn nothing about, but we’re also saddled with him the entirety of the engagement. In addition, Mikkelsen hands in another thankless performance as the movie’s antagonist, but his outline and motivations never even sniff compelling, and because of such condemns him to be another forgettable villain that never offers him the chance to explore properly within the confines of the character. Finally, at two-and-a-half hours, the film is a bit long-winded, but surprisingly in the air of its climax, which is a bit convoluted by a plot device that can’t get to the point of its inception quickly enough. For the first 105 minutes of the film, the pacing is smooth, maintaining urgency and complexity in continuously pushing the story forward, but it’s in that final forty minute stretch where the film’s smooth flight reaches turbulence, remaining stunted in the climax a bit longer than I would’ve appreciated, and in turn prolonging what is easily the most predictable moments of the experience.

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” isn’t quite on the level of its original trilogy, but it’s a breath of fresh air compared to the darkest days of “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, which more than justifies its inception. The addition of James Mangold at the forefront whips this aging franchise and protagonist with gut-wrenching intensity and dramatic heft that has been conspicuous by their absence for quite some time, in turn cementing the nostalgically warming goodbye for the franchise that it rightfully deserves.

My Grade: 7/10 or B-

7 thoughts on “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

  1. Great review! This is about what I expected. Better than Crystal Skull, but not quite as good as the originals. I’m really disappointed that Mikkelsen’s character isn’t fleshed out more and given a better storyline, but it sounds like the action and the main characters are in fine form. I’m looking forward to seeing this one in the theaters!

  2. Looking forward to this, and hope it’s the final Indy….but in the era of reboots, I struggle to believe it will be

  3. As an Indy fan, I can’t wait to see this movie! I’m so glad it’s not a flop. Thank you for doing what you do!

  4. Well a B- is a good review lol! I always come to your page first before watching. I’m excited to see Harrison Ford in action again. Great review!

  5. Well….I guessed we switched places with last week’s Asteroid City. I’ll just go ahead and say it, I actually like Kingdom of the Crystal Skull a bit more than this. Now that I’ve completely invalidated my opinion (lol), let me say that I still really appreciated reading your review. I totally agree that James Mangold crushed it and continues to show why he is one of the most versatile directors around. I did like some of the action which could be fun and intense despite the overuse of CGI which at times looked pretty bad. I also agree with most of your praises toward the cast even though it took me a while to get use to a much grumpier Indy. With all that said, I was rarely invested in the story and almost never felt anything character wise. I partially think it’s because of the script which just felt lacking to me, and I didn’t always agree with the dynamic between Ford and Bridge. I also didn’t feel any energy or momentum for large portions of the film including during certain action scenes such as the parade chase which I honestly thought was dull. The pace for me made the film feel even longer than its two and a half hour runtime. Also, during the climax that you alluded to, I was annoyed by a certain choice made that I think undercut what could have been a really emotional moment. Either way, I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed it and that most fans seem to like it. But I personally don’t see myself going back to this one ever. Fantastic review!

  6. My son and daughter are going to see this next week. I will obviously have to see it for nostalgia purposes. I figured it had to be better than the last one, but it will always be hard to beat the original.

  7. I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did! The time travel added an extra layer of adventure! It was one of those movies that felt like a fun night at the theater escaping into a world of excitement all with my popcorn in hand.

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