This latest and fifth Indiana Jones film returns to familiar territory to secure the shot and maintain momentum throughout its two and a half hours of footage, keeping the most intimate moments to a minimum. ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate’ finds Indy (Harrison Ford) as a testy and sad academic in late 1960s New York, who finds the aging archaeologist and adventurer inspired by the modernity and youth of the space race. allows for a brief brawl with the hippies. But director James Mangold and the writing team behind this last hurray at 80-year-old Ford know what makes old Indiana: Nazis, speeding trains, creepy caves, terrifying snakes, ancient world disturbances, and travel north Africa.
We’ve got it all, starting with a prologue in Europe in the final days of World War II and continuing through Indiana with a bespectacled Nazi (Mads Mikkelsen). Oh, and there’s a cameo from Archimedes himself, but you’ll have to see the movie.
There are echoes of past stories and familiar faces (for nostalgic buffs), but the new one is Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Indiana’s granddaughter and the daughter of his academic comrade (Toby Jones, hilarious). Helena knows what she’s doing in regards to the film’s mission: to retrieve Antikythera, a time-bending machine built by the bearded Archimedes. But his approach is mercenary when it comes to seniority. He says, “There’s only one thing to be believed and that’s cash.” Given that he’s fluent in Ancient Greek, we could be forgiven for not buying it.
He opens an old box of tricks and reinterprets them one by one with care and respect.
The film never stops: we jump across the Mediterranean and the Aegean, by plane, by boat, on land, underground and underwater. Ford is grumpy and grinning, while Waller-Bridge is somewhat demure as Indiana’s latest partner.
The strange thing is that the comic scenes of this pair are few and the few jokes in the film also do not work. Yet it’s what everyone expects from an Indiana Jones movie and it’s one that opens up old boxes of tricks and reinterprets them, one by one, with care and respect. Add in the stirring familiarity of John Williams’ score, and you have a thoroughly heartbreaking, if not particularly dicey, reboot.
‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate’ has premiered at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. It can be seen in cinemas worldwide on 30 June.
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