INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY
(director/writer: James Mangold; screenwriters: David Koepp/Jez Butterworth/John-Henry Butterworth; cinematographer: Phedon Papamichael; editors: Dirk Westervelt/Andrew Buckland/Michael McCusker; music: John Williams; cast: Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Helena Shaw), Antonio Banderas (Renaldo), John Rhys-Davies (Sallah), Thomas Kretschmann (Colonel Weber), Shaunette Renee Wilson (Agent Mason), Toby Jones (Basil Shaw), Boyd Holbrook (Klaber, Voller’s goon), Sam Sharma (Bidder), Ethann Isidore (Teddy), Mads Mikkelsen (Jürgen Voller), Alaa Safi (Rahim), Martin McDougal (Durkin), Olivier Richters (Voller’s goon); Runtime: 144; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Simon Emanuel/Frank Marshall/Kathleen Kennedy; Walt Disney Pictures; 2023)
“Overlong, no thrills and no fun.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
James Mangold (“Ford V Ferrari”/”Logan”) directs this overlong, no thrills and no fun Indiana Jones sequel. It hopefully tries to bring back the octogenarian star Harrison Ford for another hero stint (his fifth and last one) as the globe-trotting archeological professor adventurer. The popular franchise, imitating the heroes from the cliffhanger serials shown in theaters in the old days, started in 1981 under the direction of Steven Spielberg. The latest version is an empty exercise in chases across the globe that’s flatly co-written by the team of Mangold and David Koepp, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth. This film tries but can’t bring back the movie magic this franchise once had.
The hokum tale takes us back to Berlin at the end of World War II, in 1944, with a defeated Hitler in his bunker. It begins on a troop train involving a digitally de-aged Harrison Ford as the archeology professor fighting some Nazis to recover an ancient mathematical device (it locates fissures in time, which makes it a time machine) of mathematical importance. This stolen device gives the film its title.
While trying to save himself and rescue his British professor pal Basil Shaw (Toby Jones), Indy ends up tussling with a Third Reich heavyweight, the physicist Voller (Mads Mikkelsen), on top of the train as it speeds through a mountain pass.
In the next scene we’re in 1969, when the Apollo II moon landing has just taken place. Ford is a cranky old man retiring from his teaching post at a NYC college when his goddaughter, the daughter of his late pal Basil Shaw, Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), shows up and talks with him of an object that always interested him, something she’s doing her graduation thesis on, that mathematical dial from his 1944 adventure.
Meanwhile the Nazi scientist Voller who Indy tangled with in Nazi Germany, uses an alias to work for NASA, while still holding fast to his Nazi beliefs and to control the world by getting possession of the time-machine device.
We learn that Helena possesses half the dial, as she reunites with her junior associate Teddy (Ethann Isidore) in Tangiers and unethically sets up a private auction to sell the relic to the highest bidder. Indy is dismayed to learn she’s into money more than doing the right thing. We thereby learn the device doesn’t work without the other half, as determined by the device’s inventor Archimedes, as it only allows the owner of the whole thing to control the forces of space and time and he hid the other half after splitting it into two pieces.
The action moves from one action sequence to another, as those in possession of half the device are trying to locate the missing hidden half while running from the pursuing Voller and his crazed Nazi goons (Boyd Holbrook and Olivier Richters). It takes us to a motorcycle chase through the streets of Manhattan, with Indy escaping his pursuers by riding a horse through a subway tunnel. Then to a tuk-tuk chase through Tangiers’ winding alleys. And, we end up at the sea off the Greek coast to dive for the artifact. None of these chases registered as thrilling despite being visually pleasing (all made with CGI effects).
The third-billed Antonio Banderas, in the role of Indy’s old fisherman buddy and car driver, has an insignificant part and vanishes from the film without an after-thought.
This is the kind of action film that can be considered a time-waster, that fills you with nostalgia for the old days but can’t deliver much excitement over it.
It played at the Cannes Film Festival.-
REVIEWED ON 5/29/2023 GRADE: C