Now THAT is how to end a movie series!
Indiana Jones rides triumphantly into the sunset with Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, a movie so good that we can now pretend 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull never happened.
Dial of Destiny is everything fans could want in an Indiana Jones movie, even a last look at a youth-augmented Harrison Ford punching Nazis at the end of World War II. Some purists will criticize the technological de-aging of Ford, but it was essential to the plot and looks almost seamless.
As fun as those first 20 minutes of the movie are, I preferred the weathered, naturally aged Ford playing a retired, frustrated and lonely Indiana Jones. He’s an old guy who complains about aches and pains, but yearns for one last adventure, even if he won’t admit it.
The plot is not simple, but logical in a pseudo-scientific sort of way. Nazis intent on recapturing the good old days are searching for a lost invention of ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes, which they believe will allow them to rewrite the past. With the help (and hinderance) of his goddaughter Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Indy races against one old Nazi scientist, Jurgen Voller, played to perfection by Mads Mikkelsen, and his tiny gang of Proud Boy type neo-Nazis to find the pieces of Archimedes’ invention. Swedish-born Mikkelsen has an unforgettable face thanks to his role as Hannibal Lecter in the tv show, Hannibal.
It would not be an Indiana Jones movie without crazy chases – cars, horses, trains, planes and some weird European vehicles, a few too many to be truthful. The movie might be better served minus 20 minutes worth of chases. They are fun to watch, but eventually enough is enough.
Director James Mangold, (Logan, Wolverine and a bunch of television shows) proves up to task of following in Steven Spielberg’s footsteps, though never overshadowing the master.
There are so many great moments in the film, which feels like a raucous farewell party for an old friend. John Williams’ rousing Indiana Jones theme will send chills up your spine. Some old friends drop by, including the always charismatic John Rhys-Davies beautifully reprising his role as Indy ally Sallah. Karen Allen returns as Marion, but we can’t say more without spoilers. There are a few scenes that are homages to old Indy classics, which will draw applause. There is even a nod to the ill-fated Crystal Skull movie when Indy mentions the death of his son, Mutt, who was played by Shia LaBeouf to critical pans. That’s a good way to put that issue to rest.
Initially, it feels like the Helena Shaw character is a bit forced into the script, but she grows on you as the movie progresses and viewers try to figure out her motives.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opens June 30 and may easily be the blockbuster movie of the summer, as it should be. At 2.20 hours, it runs a bit long but serves as a fitting tribute to the series that began in 1981.
1981? Now I feel old.