Time is not on Indiana Jones’ (Harrison Ford appearing in jarring de-aged CG and as himself in the present day) side in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the fifth entry in the franchise and the first not to be directed by Steven Spielberg. James Mangold has taken over directorial duties, and pays tribute to what has come before.
It’s 1969 and the US is obsessed with the future and in particular the space race, meanwhile Jones’ is feeling like a relic, about to retire from his job and in the middle of a divorce. When a face from his past Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) turns up, she upends his quiet life, and takes him on an adventure to locate an ancient artefact that she believes holds the power to disrupt the space-time continuum.
In typical style, the prologue sees Indy escape from a perilous situation and having a face-off with some Nazis. It’s a fast-paced madcap chase across a moving train. The action set-pieces are nicely directed, but there’s too much of a sense that we’ve seen this all before… and done better.
Mads Mikkelsen plays wicked Nazi scientist Jürgen Voller with relish; he’s a fantastic on-screen presence who gets to deliver a defining line in the film: “Things go forward, but sometimes they go backwards.” His character taps into the rise of fascism in the modern day, as Voller is intent on taking control of the world under the Nazi regime.
Ford is of course wonderful as Indy, getting some decent quips and grumpy lines, and his dynamic with Waller-Bridge is amusingly adversarial. Helena is a companion written with a delightful agency, who takes control of situations and isn’t afraid of breaking the law to get what she wants. Waller-Bridge delivers her one-liners with comic charm.
However, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny feels overstuffed and the iffy way the man at the centre is presented is quite off-putting. Maybe it’s time for Indy to lay down his hat and whip and walk away… or pass it along to someone else, which feels like what the film is leading to in a potential spin-off.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny will be released in cinemas on 28 June