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The Crack Magazine

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Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Director: James Mangold

Stars: Harrison Ford, Mads Mikkelsen, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Toby Jones, John Rhys-Davies, Antonio Banderas

The concluding episode of the Indiana Jones saga undoes some of the damage of the dispiriting previous outing for the archaeologist adventurer, 2008’s ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’, but the zip of fizz of Steven Spielberg’s original trilogy is sadly absent.

It begins in the closing days of the war with Jones (a youthful Ford created via old footage apparently) chasing a sacred artefact on a train full of Nazis, including Mikkelsen’s creepy scientist Dr Voller, while trying to rescue fellow archaeologist Basil Shaw (Toby Jones, alas no ‘Detectorists’ shout-outs). It’s nicely staged with a lovely old school Indy gag with a noose, even if the CGI imbues the latter part of the chase with a tension-draining ersatz quality, an intermittent problem throughout.

Forward to 1969 NYC where Indy is working at a rundown university lecturing in archaeology to uninterested students who are far more taken with the future, specifically the moon landing currently taking place. Then his Goddaughter and fellow archaeologist Helena Shaw (Waller-Bridge) turns up, and Indy is back on horseback, travelling the globe and trekking to ancient sites in search of a sacred artefact with history-changing abilities, the titular Dial of Destiny. Dr Voller, now a NASA-employed rocket scientist with his eye on a new frontier, is on his tail.

The first act jogs along enjoyably enough, but gets bogged down midway in prolonged MacGuffin-chasing. A second act sequence on the Sicilian coast, which Spielberg would’ve done and dusted in five minutes, feels particularly surplus to requirements, while managing to squander the presence of Antonio Banderas in the promising, if mostly mute, role as a lusty boat captain. Ford exhibits some of the old Jones charm, but Waller-Bridge’s saucy opportunist feels unwritten and her trajectory predictable. Mikkelsen seems to be having fun though as he channels the spooky intensity of the true believer. In one excellent scene, presumably scripted by the film’s co-writers Jez ‘Jerusalem’ Butterworth, Voller taunts an African-American hotel worker about the spoils of the allies’ victory in the War. Affecting ruminations on ageing and the need to let the past go are probably Butterworth’s work too.

The climax, which may be a little too fanciful for some, even in Indy’s world of trans-dimensional aliens and thousand-year-old knights, at least possesses a manic energy that is often lacking elsewhere. The epilogue, however, is pure key-jangling mawkishness which substitutes rehashing of familiar classic lines in favour of decent writing.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is released 28th June.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm

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