What’s it about?
Indiana Jones buckles his swash one last time, teaming up with his estranged goddaughter Helena in a race against time against those pesky Nazis to retrieve a legendary dial that could change the course of history.
What’d we think?
Peter Linning says: Die-hard Indiana Jones fans were always going to either hate this or love this, and I’m firmly in the latter category. Straight out of the gate this feels like old-school Indy, with an opening sequence set in the closing days of World War 2 (thanks to some great de-ageing effects work) that has everyone’s favourite archaeologist scrambling to prevent the Nazis from seizing a historical artefact with supposedly magical properties. When we pick up with Indy in the film’s present-day of 1969, he’s the same Dr. Jones, just older, crankier, and being forced into retirement. A run-in with his estranged goddaughter Helena kicks off the new adventure, and it’s all classic adventure stuff from there on out – punching Nazis, grabbing treasure, and travelling around the world with the classic dotted-line-on-a-map overlay.
With a character like Indy it’d be easy to veer into fanservice territory, but the movie never goes overboard in this department, Indiana Jones is just such an iconic character that his presence is all it really takes to scratch that itch. Phoebe Waller-Bridge shines as Helena, not just holding her own against Harrison Ford, but occupying the role that he might have filled in an earlier adventure. Having Helena as the ostensible protagonist elegantly sidesteps the issues that might have come with having a man of Harrison’s advanced years being the driving force of the movie, almost creating a vibe of mentor-as-main-character. Having said that, Harrison looks great in the old fedora, he’s not doing any backflips but at no point does it look like he’s needing a cane to get around (drinking from the Holy Grail no doubt does wonders for one’s sprightliness).
The plot moves at a great clip, Mads Mikkelsen is a wonderful villain (surprising no-one), and the action is whip-cracking good stuff. Dial of Destiny is probably the best that an Indiana Jones movie in 2023 could possibly be – it’s not perfect, but any criticisms I have could comfortably be filed under nitpicking. I was having a blast from start to finish, and for me to not notice a nearly 2.5-hour runtime, that’s saying something.
Anthony Sherratt says: This is how nostalgia porn should be done. Dial of Destiny is a celebration of Indiana Jones. The first twenty minutes gives us a classic Indy action sequence which reminds us why we have loved this whip-cracking archeologist for so long. It’s simple, it’s entertaining, it gives us cameos and callbacks without going overboard, it’s thrills and spills and twists, it has Nazi punching.
It’s a fun adventure that warmed my heart repeatedly. I’m already looking forward to a rewatch.