Whoever thought we would see Harrison Ford donning his old hat, leather jacket, and whip again? For some reason, Harrison Ford was on board and wanted to give playing Indy one more go. After so many delays, COVID, and re-shoots, the fifth movie in The Indiana Jones franchise is finally upon us. And there were a lot of people looking forward to seeing the return of Indiana Jones. After all the negativity of the previous film, “Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull,” we felt that anything would be better than that movie.
Well, folks, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
For the first twenty minutes or so, “Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny” is pretty great. This is where we see the de-aged Harrison Ford playing a younger Indiana Jones in an adventure to retrieve another holy relic from the Nazis during World War II. The de-aging process is not perfect, but it’s pretty good. Technology has come a long way since Tarkin in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” There are some minor quibbles with his voice, but sometimes his voice sounds almost perfect.
This is the Indiana Jones we wanted to see: outnumbered and against all odds, using his wits and skills to overcome his enemies and survive. While watching this, I was convinced this movie was going to be so good. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there.
There are two big problems with this movie. I hate to say it, but probably the biggest problem is that Harrison Ford is just too old to play Indiana Jones. You may have had problems with refrigerators and monkeys in “The Crystal Skull,” but at least Harrison Ford was still Indy, and he played him damn well.
It is just sad to see Harrison Ford as Indy now. Indy is basically Carl Fredricksen now. He lives alone in a crappy apartment in NYC and looks to spend most of his off time sleeping in a recliner with his shirt off, probably after drinking himself to sleep and yelling at kids that are making too much noise. Marion has left him, for a pretty dumb reason, and he just appears to barely exist and is just waiting for his life to end. That’s not the Indy I want to see.
Is it realistic? Maybe, it could be. But again, I don’t want to see Indy like that. And he just looks old. In “The Crystal Skull,” it was believable for him to do the things he did because at least he didn’t look like he had one foot in the grave. Now he’s got one foot in the grave and the other one on a banana peel. His hair isn’t gray, it’s white. When he has his Indy garb on, and his fedora isn’t on his head, his hair is so white that it looks like he’s seen a ghost.
There is a scene where he is running up a hill after a truck, and I was relieved that he stopped because I was sure he was either going to break a hip or have a heart attack. I won’t be getting into major spoilers, but the decision that he makes toward the end is just not Indy. It is an insult to the character and to the fans. It is just so sad that they would even have Indy think like that.
The other big problem is Helena, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
The first problem with Helena is that she is very unlikable. Helena is younger, faster, stronger, and smarter than Indy, and she has no problems reminding Indy that he is too old. It’s like they diminished Indy’s abilities to elevate her character and assume that the audience will love her because she is hipper and cooler than the old and outdated character. If Indy was more of a mentor to her, and she had respect for him, it may have worked. But she comes in guns a-blazing, taking advantage of his old age and his fondness for her and her father. And for some reason, she punches like Mike Tyson. She throws one punch, and, wham, you are out for days.
I will say that the villains are very good. Probably some of the best in the franchise. Mads Mikkelsen was just born to play villains. John Williams does a great job scoring the movie, but it’s also basically his old stuff, which is probably better than anything new that can be made. The time in New York City isn’t bad, but once they get to Tangiers, the movie goes downhill fast.
It’s sad to say, but Harrison Ford just doesn’t have it in him to play Indiana Jones anymore, unless they de-age him for any potential future movie. Harrison Ford’s performance as Indy is basically the equivalent of Roger Moore playing James Bond in “A View To A Kill.” Both should have walked away in their prime, and they chose not to.
I probably don’t have to even mention this, but “The Last Crusade” had the perfect ending for Indy. We got to see him ride off into the sunset with his Dad, Sallah, and Brody. It was a nice bookend for the trilogy. Then greed reared its ugly head, and we got “Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.” After that disaster, people wanted a decent movie for Indy to end the franchise on. “Dial Of Destiny” is not it. Maybe for some, “Crystal Skull” is worse, but there is no way that “Dial Of Destiny” had a better ending for the character than “The Last Crusade.”
Take my advice, watch the first twenty minutes of the movie, and then walk out. It doesn’t get any better from there, and at least you will remember Indy in a positive light. The good thing is that after this bombs at the box office, I doubt we will ever see Phoebe Waller-Bridge taking over the franchise in the future.
I give “Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny” a 5/10.