By: Russ Matthews
Since the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, few figures have cast a long shadow across cinema screens as Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones.
His silhouette with the classic fedora, disheveled clothing, and the ever-present whip are all as iconic as the role of the archaeological adventurer. The franchise has contained highs and lows, along with the debate of Ford retaining his alter-ego. Yet, he is back for one last expedition to defend the latest artefact sought after by familiar enemies and family friends looking to profit from the discovery.
This final chapter is helmed by James Mangold (Ford v. Ferrari, Logan), who knows his way around action films since Steven Speilberg chose to take a producer’s chair for this outing. As audiences are taken back to 1969, Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr. is confronted with retirement and the end of his career. Until his goddaughter, Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), shows up with a request to assist her in finding the Antikythera (Dial of Destiny), that had driven her father to madness as one of Jones’ archaeological counterparts. Yet, her intentions are less than noble as she hopes to sell the antique on the black market. Except Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) and his Nazi sympathisers have other plans for the artefact’s discovery.
A Senior Harrison Ford
One thing that needs to be acknowledged is that Harrison Ford was in his late 70’s during the filming of this film. To say that he is getting on in years is an understatement, but even in these advanced years, he fills out the fedora well. Granted, the opening segment involved the de-aging technology for him and Mikkelsen. Still, Ford does prove that he is truly the only person who can fulfil the role of Indiana Jones and Mangold does his best to honour this final chapter of this beloved character.
Since his introduction, Indiana Jones films have never been marketed as anything but swashbuckling action that delivers thought-provoking escapism. He was meant for an era, and this instalment shows that he has satisfactorily set the standard for archaeological adventure. Dial of Destiny provides the nostalgic touch to satisfy all who have been along for the journey since the beginning. Yet, this movie should capture the imagination of a new generation and encourage them to go back through the series. Mads Mikkelsen proves he is a formidable opponent for Jones’ team. His role supports the belief that every great hero needs an equal or greater enemy to be convincing.
Weakness in the Casting
Suppose there is a weakness within the casting. In that case, Phoebe Waller-Bridge fails to develop the chemistry to make audiences care about her. Despite keeping up with Ford through the action and containing a skilful use of words, her character never manages to connect with the audience. Yet, her role does not take away from the overall experience, and the rest of the film makes up for this casting deficiency. The constant action and race to find the various antiquities make for a robust and fitting conclusion to the franchise.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is for the devoted fan of the adventure-seeking archaeologist. Still, it may even be enough to win over new fans along the way. At 154 minutes, be ready for an extended, enjoyable, action-packed journey through time and fond memories of the past.
Reel Dialogue: What’s in your bag?
One thing that has been consistent throughout the franchise is the simplicity of Indy’s possessions as they all must fit into one bag. Upon opening it, audiences can automatically identify the owner as it contains the whip, hat, jacket and a map to guide him. Indiana Jones’ identity is found in his satchel.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27
If you were forced to pack everything that represents your life in one bag, your identity in a bag, what would it hold? Pictures, technology, books? Would God factor into your belongings? It is easy to be defined by your possessions, but this query goes a bit deeper. How does your faith define you? Take some time today to discover what truly represents who you are as a person.
Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.
All images: Movie stills
About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.