‘Dial of Destiny’ Is a Satisfying Farewell for Indiana Jones

Ulises Duenas


The proposition of going back to Indiana Jones well after “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” poisoned it isn’t appealing, and casting a now 80-year-old Harrison Ford is questionable -- yet somehow “Dial of Destiny” manages to redeem the character while delivering a satisfying, modern version of a classic franchise.


The film primarily takes place in 1969 after the moon landing with a jaded Indiana Jones ending his teaching career before being thrust into another adventure. From there, it’s a globetrotting journey to find an artifact that the Nazis want to use for evil measures as fans can expect. It’s not a complicated plot, but it has the ingredients of a classic adventure and it’s the cast that makes the film succeed.



Harrison Ford delivers a good performance as a version of Indiana Jones that has left adventuring behind long ago and is left with no family by his side during his twilight years. Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Helena Shaw becomes a highlight of the film thanks to the character arc she goes through. She’s meant to mirror a younger Indiana Jones with a more selfish edge as her main interest in treasure hunting is purely financial. While she is unlikable in the first half of the movie, her heart grows softer as she’s unintentionally mentored by a weathered Indi. Mads Mikkelsen, unsurprisingly, makes for the best villain in a “Jones” film since “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” with his stoic demeanor and desperate drive.


James Mangold does a good job of mixing in modern action scenes with traditional ones. If this movie tried to replicate the charm and style of the originals, it would have likely fallen flat without Spielberg behind the camera, so striking the right balance of new and old was a great decision. Action scenes use a lot of close-ups and sweeping shots, especially during chases, but the actual action is in line with an Indiana Jones movie. There’s also a fair amount of blood and death for those who thought “Crystal Skull” was too tame. 



Since the artifact, which the movie is centered on, involves time travel, I was worried that the plot would jump the shark with some weird-looking young Harrison Ford or revisiting scenes from past movies, but thankfully this doesn’t do that. That’s not to say things don’t get crazy towards the end, but it’s a lot more creative than I thought it would be and makes for a good ending to what is likely the last “Indiana Jones” movie.


If nothing else, it reminds us why the original trilogy was so beloved; even though these are far from high art, they have perfectly captured a sense of adventure that is both thrilling and charming. 


Being better than the fourth movie is a low bar and this more than clears it. It’s a good sendoff to an iconic character, while being entertaining in its own right. Longtime fans will be understandably skeptical of this film, but it’s worth watching to clear the bad taste of “Crystal Skull,” if nothing else.


Author Bio:

Ulises Duenas is a senior writer at Highbrow Magazine.


For Highbrow Magazine


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