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Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny ★★★★

Harrison Ford returns once more as the iconic Indiana Jones in the ‘Dial of Destiny’



Director: James Mangold

Cast: Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, Antonio Banderas

Released: Cannes Film Festival 2023

*Warning: This Article May Contain Spoilers*

Iconic characters come and go, and for Harrison Ford, it’s time to bid farewell to Indiana Jones. For 42 years, we’ve seen the actor effortlessly rock that famed hat and whip, and now it’s time for him to pick them up one last time.

Screening out of competition, the fifth chapter of the franchise Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny generated an electric buzz at Cannes Film Festival on Thursday evening (18th May). With fans shouting ‘Indy’ just moments prior to the film’s premiere, you could feel the dedication and love in celebrating this momentous moment for Ford, who has previously confirmed the film will mark his last appearance as the character. The actor was left visibly moved as he was awarded an honorary Palme d’Or for his lifetime dedication to his career.

Despite 2008’s critically divisive Kingdom of the Crystal Skull suggesting it was the franchise’s swan song, Ford is back like he never left in The Dial of Destiny. We first see Indy tackling the Nazis looking as youthful as he did in the Raiders of the Lost Ark, thanks to the magic work of CGI, and truth be told, it’s nostalgically eerie. This is where we meet Juergen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) as Indy and his partner Basil (Toby Jones) attempt to keep hold of Archimedes’ dial.

Fast forward to 1969, we see Voller again, this time under a fake name and with sudden fame as the man behind the space project overseeing the first man to make it to the moon. As folks are celebrating Moon Day in a typically American patriotic way, Indy deems himself as retired from the adventure game and is trying to get through another day of teaching archaeology. His students don’t seem to care about listening or even doing the work until Basil’s daughter and Indy’s god-daughter Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) turn up and show them up.

Jones doesn’t recognise Helena until she reminds him in a bar post-work. She is on the hunt to re-discover the dial that her late father spent so much time obsessing over. In turn, this has caused her to be the main target of Voller during his villainous mission, searching for the device which he believes will enable him to go back in time to win the war on his own terms. Thus, Indy’s retirement is straight out of the window.

When asked why he is giving up the role at the film’s press conference at Cannes, Ford said, ‘Isn’t it evident’. But age isn’t an issue within the film as many presume it would be. There are numerous references to the typical aches and pains, with Mangold choosing natural humour to address them. Another journalist also proclaimed to the actor that he is still ‘very hot’; honestly, she’s right. Indy is as fit as he was back in 2008, and all the previous times he grabbed his whip – it has not stopped him from climbing up high rocks or participating in dangerous vehicle chases. Helena may appear to have more of a youthful energy about her, but it’s undoubtedly clear that Indy isn’t going to let anyone steal the show.

For anyone coming into a well-established franchise, their role will always be questioned by fans. Will they fit in? Will they ruin the film? When a fandom is so established, die-hard fans are the main critics; But rest assured, Ford and Waller-Bridge’s chemistry is effortless, witty and with a non-romantic element full of love and care for one another. Both characters appear lost within themselves due to the hard factor of them losing the most important people in their lives. Together, they make a great team – one which could have been a fun pairing for future films.

In this modern era of filmmaking, where we see television shows and film series continue to carry on or get remade unnecessarily, they often leave dangerous gaps for it all to go to ruin. Mangold, who directed the closing chapter of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine saga with Logan back in 2017, has taken over the helm from Steven Spielberg. Did we need this movie? Will it ruin the franchise’s legacy? My argument would be not to take every film so seriously. Sure, Dial of Destiny isn’t perfect by any means, but Mangold has provided another fun chapter to this story. Spielberg previously sang praises of Mangold in confirmation of support. While Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny doesn’t provide the swan song vibes many may presume, it does, however, provide a happy alternative to mark the end of an iconic series. It’s strangely emotional – one minute, you’re laughing or indulged by its action, and the next moment you shed a tiny tear or two. It feels final, and what a way for the character to bid farewell. So long, Indy.

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