Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny marks the end of the road for the iconic archaeologist, Indiana Jones. Directed by James Mangold, who similarly brought Wolverine’s arc to a close in 2017’s Logan, the movie has a nostalgic, old-fashioned feel, a rollicking globe-trotting ride that pits Ford’s intrepid adventurer against the Nazis once more. The movie makes up for 2008’s outlandish Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, with a more grounded story.
The movie begins in 1944, with Ford de-aged, looking like the Indy of old. We find Indy and archeologist pal Basil Shaw chasing the Lance of Longinus in a race against the Nazis, who are scooping up antiquities across Europe. The opener culminates in a lengthy chase atop a train, as Indy goes mano-a-mano with high-ranking Nazi Jürgen Voller, with all his usual derring-do.
Cut to 25 years later, on the eve of the Moon landings, Indy’s living in a crummy New York apartment. He’s woken up by his neighbours loudly playing The Beatles’ ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, though it’s fairly clear Dr. Jones has not turned on, tuned in and dropped out. He’s grumpy with these long-hairs. Even the kids he teaches at Hunter College, where he’s been for 10 years, have little interest in what he has to say.
With his marriage to Marion seemingly over, Indy is also on the verge of retirement, his days of whip-cracking long behind him. Until, that is, he’s paid a visit by his goddaughter Helena Shaw, Basil’s offspring. She’s desperate to continue her father’s search for Archimedes’ Dial, a gizmo he believed could predict fissures in time. Trouble is, she’s not the only one looking for it. So is Voller, still alive and under an assumed identity, instrumental in helping the US government in the Space Race. Joined by Boyd Holbrook’s ruthless muscle Klaber, he’s been tracking Helena’s movements.
As she yanks Indy into her pursuit, we discover that Helena isn’t entirely pure of heart. She’s something of a chancer, with gambling debts to boot – interesting character choices that add nuance. As the action moves to Tangier and later Greece, she hooks up with her adept teenage protégé Teddy. There’s also room for Antonio Banderas in a small role as an old chum of Indy’s, a Spanish deep-sea diver, who takes the group underwater as they continue to seek a missing part of the Dial.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a movie with tears in its eyes. We see the character has grown older, but not necessarily wiser. Drinking a bit too much, he’s full of regrets about pursuing fortune and glory and leaving his loved ones behind. Ford has shown he’s a dab hand at playing the curmudgeon, so it seems apt that Mangold and his co-writers should steer the character in this direction.
The action is slickly handled by Mangold, not least a thrilling tuk-tuk chase through Tangier. Mikkelsen is chilling as Voller, who’s assuredly the best antagonist Indy has faced since Mola Ram brought new meaning to ‘pulling the heartstrings’. Waller-Bridge makes for a good foil for Indy, calling him “an ageing grave-robber” and coming out with some choice Anglo phrases. And as you’d hope, Ford slips effortlessly back into the role.
James Mangold doesn’t overplay the nostalgic throwbacks, although there’s a nice reference to Indy drinking “the blood of Kali” (from 1984’s Temple of Doom) and, thankfully, we do get to see an on-screen map charting the characters’ movements. There’s also an appearance by series veteran Sallah, although given the vitality he brings, he’s disappointingly underused. By the end, though, you’ll have a smile on your face, especially when it comes to the final shot: an elegant tip of the hat to one of cinema’s greatest heroes.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is in UK cinemas on June 28 and in US cinemas on June 30.