Everyone’s favorite whip-cracking archaeologist is back for one last adventure in the newly-released Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. The film serves as the fifth and final installment in the Indiana Jones franchise and is the first to not be directed by Steven Spielberg, with James Mangold taking over for him. Many fans are wondering how this new film stacks up to the previous films in the franchise. Just like Indy himself, we must all buckle up for the adventure of a lifetime to track down the answer to this mystery once and for all.
Harrison Ford returns as his iconic character, Indiana Jones, and is as good as he’s ever been in the role. Even at the age of 80 years old, he is still able to pull off a convincing and engaging performance as a character that is near and dear to the hearts of many. Despite the concerns people (myself included) have had for years about an elderly Ford doing another Indiana Jones film, he proves the critics wrong and is able to mostly keep up with his younger co-stars and be a part of the action all the way through. Ford is also able to show his acting range by portraying Indiana Jones with an emotional vulnerability and relatability that we have never fully gotten to see with this character before. Mads Mikkelsen also gives an entertaining performance as the film’s villain, a Nazi scientist named Jurgen Voller, being complex and interesting enough to stand alongside previous villains in the franchise while also doing enough to make him a unique threat.
However, not every character works well in the film. While Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a talented actress who has given good performances in other roles, her character as Indy’s sidekick, Helena Shaw, comes across as smug and obnoxious, resulting in a character that becomes more and more grating as the film drags on. This isn’t helped by the fact that the film is far too long, being 2 and a half hours when a 2-hour runtime would have been more fitting. This elongated runtime also hurts the pacing quite a bit, which may leave audience members checking their watches until the film finally arrives at its climax. The climax itself is actually pretty entertaining and takes some bold risks, which mostly pay off. Though, a choice is made with Indy’s character which is bafflingly out of character and robs him of his agency as the protagonist, which ends the film off in a bittersweet fashion. Sadly, this bittersweet feeling persists throughout the film, making the overall tone feel much too dark and dreary for a franchise that has historically been upbeat and optimistic.
While James Mangold was able to deliver a fun film that provides some entertaining action set pieces; the odd character choices mixed with pacing and tonal issues contribute to the film feeling like it is missing the Spielberg magic that made the original Indiana Jones films in the 80s feel so special. However despite this, the film is still a must-see for hardcore fans of the franchise if for nothing else than to see Harrison Ford prove that you’re never too old to have an adventure.