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Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Photograph: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Harrison Ford is back as adventurer Indiana Jones – now with sidekick Phoebe Waller-Bridge – and he's playing all the old hits

This latest, fifth Indiana Jones movie plays it safe by returning to familiar territory and achieving an energetic momentum that it mostly manages to maintain for its lengthy runtime, partly by keeping its quieter human moments to a strict minimum. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny finds Indy (Harrison Ford) as a cranky and grieving academic in late 1960s New York – allowing the ageing archeologist-adventurer briefly to rub up against the modernity of the space race and youthful hippies. But the core team behind this last hurrah (surely the last?) for 80-year-old Ford (director James Mangold and writers including Britain’s Butterworth brothers) know what really makes old Indy tick: Nazis, speeding trains, spooky caves, scary snakes, Ancient World mumbo-jumbo and a sojourn to North Africa.

And so we get them all – starting with a prologue set in Europe in the dying days of World War II and continuing with a bespectacled Nazi villain (Mads Mikkelsen) who follows Indy from one period to the next. Oh, and Archimedes himself has a cameo – but you’ll need to see the movie to unpick that one.

There are echoes of past stories and familiar faces – catnip to nostaglic fans – but new to the scene is Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Indy’s goddaughter and daughter of Indy’s academic sidekick (Toby Jones, reliably fun) in the film’s opening wartime scenes. Helena knows her stuff when it comes to the film’s mission – to recover a time-bending machine, the Antikythera, built by beardy Archimedes himself. But Helena takes a mercenary approach to antiquity. ‘The only thing worth believing in ever is cash.’ Considering she speaks fluent Ancient Greek, we might be forgiven for not believing her.

It opens the old box of tricks and performs them one-by-one with care and respect

The film never lets up: it’s set piece after set piece as we hop all over the Med and the Aegean, by plane, by boat, above ground, underground and underwater. Ford is mostly morose and grimacing, while Waller-Bridge is a bit of disappointment as Indy’s latest partner.

Oddly, the comedy of this partnership is dialled down, and the film’s few wisecracks don’t really land. It’s adventure, though, that everyone really wants from an Indiana Jones movie, and on that front it delivers and then some by prising open the old box of tricks and performing them one-by-one with care and respect. Add to that the rousing familiarity of John Williams’s score, and it all amounts to a comforting if not especially challenging reboot.

In UK cinemas Jun 28 and US theaters Jun 30.

Dave Calhoun
Written by
Dave Calhoun

Cast and crew

  • Director:James Mangold
  • Screenwriter:James Mangold, Jez Butterworth, David Koepp, John-Henry Butterworth
  • Cast:
    • Harrison Ford
    • Mads Mikkelsen
    • Boyd Holbrook
    • Phoebe Waller-Bridge
    • John Rhys-Davies
    • Antonio Banderas
    • Thomas Kretschmann
    • Toby Jones
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