Cast: Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, Antonio Banderas
Director: James Mangold
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: June 30, 2023
Archaeologist Indiana Jones races against time to retrieve a legendary artefact that can change the course of history.
Harrison Ford returns for his fifth time in the latest instalment of the much-beloved franchise, accompanied by some familiar faces. It was due to be released in 2019 but was severely delayed due to rewrites and the COVID-19 pandemic. Steven Spielberg, who directed the previous four films, stepped down from this movie in 2020, with James Mangold taking over the reins. When Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull hit our screens in 2008, it came under negative criticism and wasn’t received well by many. So this follow-up had some recovery, and it does to some extent at certain parts. The opening sequence, set in 1944 during World War II, is visually highly impactful and satisfying to watch and has some great action scenes which will make you sit upright in your seat and lean forward with excitement. It follows a young, fresh-faced Indiana Jones (Ford) that uses superb visual effects that make him so realistic and makes it feel seamless as if it were authentic, but his voice still sounds like an older man, which is a little distracting. He and his colleague Basil Shaw (Toby Jones) venture to Europe to recover stolen artefacts from the Nazis, in particular, a time travel mechanism which lies in the hands of scientist Dr Voller (Nads Mikkelsen), which in moments and during a train chase is so fast-paced and snappy that it brings back that nostalgia feeling.
Fast forward twenty-five years, and Jones, close to retirement, is again on the hunt to retrieve the time travel device, the Archimedes dial, with the help of his cunning Goddaughter Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). The first twenty minutes of this film are excellent, and it bearly lets us catch our breath during it. After that, the problems with this movie bubble up on the surface, becoming too frequent. The plot, in general, could be more transparent and more apparent in the sense that it tends to show and throw information at us for the sake of it without the need for it. In particular, a silly scene where Indiana Jones fixes a broken-down vehicle with a piece of used chewing gum, which attempts to be funny and humourous, which instead raises eyebrows. The introduction of the new character Helena Shaw (Waller-Bridge) was very muddled, and her backstory doesn’t add up in terms of staying in line with previous films. She tries to deceive Indiana Jones into helping her retrieve the Archimedes dial so she can pay off a gambling debt in Morocco, which sounds more like a slow-driven drama film than the fast, fun adventure-packed movie that we are used to. Her character could have had more of an exciting intention than just trying to escape a bad situation. She developed a friendship with Teddy (Ethann Isidore), which didn’t work for me, and I felt that there wasn’t a connection between the two, and the film attempted to shoehorn a new version of Short Round (Ke Huy Quan), who appeared in the Temple of Doom.
Mads Mikkelsen is always fantastic, and in this, he plays the bad guy very well, especially in scenes where his demands are met in tense scenarios. The movie looks great with beautiful visuals when we time-travel back to 300 BC and during a chase sequence on the streets of Tangier in Morocco. Towards the end of the film, there is a scene where Indiana Jones is faced with a choice that would change his life, but instead decides against it. This had the potential of ending the franchise and wrapping everything up in a nice little bow that would have been so emotional and fitting, but it failed to deliver. I found this very disappointing when it could have had a significant impact on audiences with its boldness. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny provides that fan service and reminiscence of the old films. At its core, it tries to be different and edgy but will leave hardcore fans with some fulfilment; at the outset, it became quite complicated and was nothing more than a bit of fun.