An archaeologist who now finds himself nearing the age of being a relic himself is a strange place for Indiana Jones to be. Plaster on this thick layer of de-ageing technology, it worked so well for Robert DeNiro. Nothing is sacred, and the pausing of the ageing process for Harrison Ford is as disconcerting as it is refreshing to see on the screen. At least it means there is another Indiana Jones film. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny follows on from the murky patch berated by all, the fourth instalment which dared to shake itself from the shackles of nostalgia and pin itself to a dated story. Not the brightest of the bunch but still a lot of heart to it, as is the case for this Phoebe Waller-Bridge penned piece, which brings Mads Mikkelsen and James Mangold into the fold.
What a collection of names this feature has to offer then, and such a shame to see it can do little with them. Time travel provides an uneven playing field best avoided for legacy franchises. When alien encounters felt like jumping the shark, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny re-nukes the fridge with a timely reminder of just how tired time travel is. The concept is mangled here, wishing for the pre-Kingdom of the Crystal Skull era when Jones could bash Nazis and find treasures of some real interest. Instead, the heavy-handed displays which so often filter through Bridgers’ writing are present for the ride. A few nice moments are scattered throughout, mainly when Indiana is alone, dealing with petrified Germans being blown to bits.
Even then, those are the moments which bring with it such a disregard for the real world, and it is hard to remember sometimes the expectations of adventure which swing through the series. Close calls and otherworldly intent are the right play to make, and as much as this is alive and well here, there is a little too much reliance on the past. Spot-check character mentions and references to the past are, naturally, made. Mikkelsen is expectedly incredible here and gives the rest of the cast a run for their money. Toby Jones makes for good supporting fodder though much of it is in the way of weapons and gunrunning. Taking to murky streets makes it hard to love much of this, with the washed-out palette offering little in the way of extraordinary direction from Mangold.
Still, it feels like an Indiana Jones movie. Burned before it had the chance, picked apart from the first stills of Ford and Waller-Bridge stomping around the cheap and inevitable capitalism gags, did this instalment ever have a chance? No, and it would have squandered any good faith it had, anyway. But it is not a miserable time. It may drape the corpse of the series so far over itself and march the John Williams score to its bitter end, but it is better than nothing at all. There is fun to be had with this final piece of the Indiana Jones puzzle, should this be the end. If it were to rectify the alleged mistakes of the previous instalment, then it works those demons over. But there were no real issues before it, and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is always on the cusp of creating some.