Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon MOVIES: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny - Review

SpoilerTV - TV Spoilers

MOVIES: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny - Review

Share on Reddit

How do you make an Indiana Jones movie where Indy time travels and end up where the result is boring? Such is the case with Dial of Destiny – a laborious, sluggish and overlong movie that acts as a showcase for just how good Steven Spielberg is: the magic just simply isn’t there without him, and when you look at the track record of James Mangold: Walk The Line, Logan, Ford v. Ferrari, we are in trouble.

Dial of Destiny opens with an extended train sequence that flashes back to 1940s Germany and Hitler is losing the war. Spunking a small fortune on an okay-at-best de-aging to make Harrison Ford look younger without recreating any of the heart or soul that understands why the Indy films worked in the first place, we get a train sequence that looks like small screen compared to Dead Reckoning’s final act, clumsily shot in the night so you can barely see what’s going on at the best of times. It's an awkward and uninteresting way to set up the movie: the flashes of fun where you see Indy cracking jokes are few and far between, banking on your memory of the iconic theme. What follows is slightly better: we’re in the future, Indy is reunited with the plot’s maguffin, an ancient device capable of unlocking time-travelling windows to the past. Now joined up by his goddaughter, an amoral wise-cracking thief Helena played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Indy and Helena must beat Mads Mikkelsen’s Nazi Dr. Jurgen Voller to the device – before he can travel back in time to win world war two.

It's absurd but then Indiana Jones has always been absurd. Nuke the fridge; escaping the plane, the face-melting and the Holy Grail. Time-travelling Nazis is relatively normal for Indy. It gives the plot a sense of agency and familiarity and Nazis make the best bad guys because they are history’s ultimate bad guys. Casting Mads Mikkelsen and Boyd Holbrook as Nazis was a typecast 101 but in Holbrook’s case it works; even if Mikkelsen is probably a bit tired of playing one-note Hollywood Nazi villains. The villains send them to wherever the plot needs to be and the problem extends to the entirety of the supporting cast: there just isn’t anyone interesting here. Helena feels like a fan’s idea of what an Indiana Jones supporting character should be like rather than immersed in the franchise: for a better example, look at Hayley Atwell’s Grace in Dead Reckoning, who fits in like she’s been there in that world since day one. With Phoebe Waller-Bridge you’re still very much watching Fleabag with Indiana Jones – and you’re left starting to wonder whether it was a one-trick pony. What’s worse is that the film barely tackles Indiana Jones as a character himself: it gives him some ideas to grapple with such as the fate of his son, Mutt; and the breakup with Marian has left him isolated and out of time in a world he doesn’t understand; but instead we follow Ford just on another adventure like he was 20 again. There’s no attempt to grapple with the weight of aging aside from a half-hearted couple of scenes and it’s still very much the same Indy.

Sometimes all you need to like a film is Indy taking on Nazis and there are moments where Dial of Destiny is almost likeable: the first set-piece in the present day is probably where most of the money went; an exhilarating chase through a Moon Day parade where Indy rides a horse through the underground – but it’s the closest to visual flair that Dial of Destiny has and even that isn’t anywhere as interesting as past Indiana Jones movies. Mangold tries and fails to recreate the magic and the result couldn’t be any more lifeless if it tried: the set-pieces are dull and flat out sleep-inducing at times; and I felt like Phoebe Waller-Bridge was desperately trying to plead to the audience why we should like Indy: “Indiana Jones, out with a bang, back in the saddle! I’m not selling this, am I?

It feels like it shouldn’t be a feat of accomplishment that Dial of Destiny is at least more watchable than Rise of the Beasts and The Flash but that isn’t enough of a reason to give it praise. The third act is decidedly ambitious but even with that it’s a chore and you’re well and truly checked out by then: the Indy favourites are all there; but it just feels like a tick-box of corporate “yes, this is what Indiana Jones is” and expecting you to cheer rather than “this is something actually new”.

Sign Up for the SpoilerTV Newsletter where we talk all things TV!


SpoilerTV Available Ad-Free!

Support SpoilerTV is now available ad-free to for all subscribers. Thank you for considering becoming a SpoilerTV premmium member!
Latest News