I really wish Harrison Ford and director James Mangold had a chance to do their own Indy trilogy because this one wasn’t half bad!
Set in 1969, the year we first landed on the moon, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny follows our titular protagonist as he struggles to come to terms with a world that’s moving on from him in more ways than one. Recently divorced, on the verge of retiring, and feeling his age more than ever, Indiana (Harrison Ford) is soon reunited with a part of his past in his goddaughter, aspiring archeologist Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), kick-starting a new MacGuffin-filled story featuring an ancient artifact called Archimedes’ Dial, a piece of history that holds a mysterious and world-changing secret. Fending off an old nemesis in the former Nazi Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen), who is also looking to harness the power of the dial, Indy is soon swept up in a new adventure of epic proportions, one that he very well may not survive to tell the tale of once everything is said and done.
Aside from the terrible title, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is exactly the film it needed to be after the debacle that was 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, yet isn’t entirely the movie I had hoped for when it comes to being the swan song for a franchise that’s been part of the pop culture landscape for decades. The first sequel not helmed by original director Steven Spielberg, James Mangold slips right into that creative role with an updated look and style that helps make this one feel more like a classic Indy adventure while still blazing a path all its own. Throw in some solid action, stellar adventuring, a crazy ending that I absolutely did not see coming (but was down for regardless), and Harrison Ford looking fucking ripped while still killing it as Indy at the ripe old age of 80, and as a fan of the series, I was more or less satisfied with where this film left the character and the franchise, especially since I’m 99% sure this will be the last Indiana Jones film ever, or at least until they commit the travesty of rebooting it with a new actor.
And while I can’t complain about most of what I saw onscreen — especially the moments that highlighted the struggles Indiana faces as a person and a hero after all these years — there are a few things that ensured this one could never reach the heights of Raiders or even Last Crusade, falling somewhere beneath Temple of Doom in terms of quality and entertainment value, but luckily being leaps and bounds better than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. From the admittedly too long prologue (and still kinda weird-looking CGI de-aging effects) to an uneven script that I felt like lost the plot a few times too many to a couple of weird narrative elements that simply didn’t work (like the entire CIA subplot), and this one has all the right ingredients needed to make something special, it just came out of the oven slightly underbaked.
It’s bittersweet to see Indiana Jones finally and definitively ride off into the sunset, and unlike the last trash sequel that was Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny delivers a true Indy adventure that unfortunately still can’t compare to the original trilogy — though it does have moments where it comes close. That being said, I’m content with nearly everything that happened here, making this entry one worth the price of admission as a worthy finale to a Hollywood legacy that may never be seen on the big screen again.