Harrison Ford is Somehow Still Fighting Nazis in 'Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny'

For a movie that's about leaving the past alone, it sure wants to revisit the glory days.

click to enlarge Can't they let Indy (Harrison Ford) enjoy a quiet retirement without yet more Nazis to chase? - Photo: ©2022 LUCASFILM LTD. & TM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Can't they let Indy (Harrison Ford) enjoy a quiet retirement without yet more Nazis to chase?

I wish Hollywood would stop making Harrison Ford go back in his past so he can basically do young-man shit. 

Yes, he’s the man who easily slipped into the roles of such iconic mavericks as Han Solo, Rick Deckard and Indiana Jones. But the sumabitch is 80 years old. He can’t run from boulders and chase after replicants and shoot aliens in cantinas like he used to. He’s not studly and chiseled anymore. The weather probably fucks with his bones. He’s an old-ass man. Let him spend his later years day drinking with Ally McBeal in peace! 

In Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Ford once again pulls out the fedora and whip to play the beloved professor/archaeologist/danger magnet. But after a rousing opening set piece where he gets de-aged to go up against marauding Nazis on a speeding train, the story eventually zips to 1969, where Jones is an old, bitter bugger, literally yelling at hippies to turn down the music.

Separated from Karen Allen’s longtime love Marion Ravenwood and finally retiring from teaching disinterested kids (the days of students pledging their love to him via messages on their eyelids are long gone), he gets thrust back in the adventure game when people come looking for an artifact that was handed off to him by an old archaeologist buddy (Toby Jones). 

It appears the MacGuffin for this flick is half of a dial built by Archimedes that could send people back in time, and two people want it the most. There’s Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), the archaeologist buddy’s grifter of a daughter, who wants to sell it. And then, there’s Jurgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen), a former Nazi turned NASA scientist (yes, he helped our boys land on the moon) who obviously wants the dial to make sure World War II ends in his side’s favor.

Destiny continues in the same chaotic, CGIed-to-hell pace Steven Spielberg and George Lucas started with the last legacyquel, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. This time, Spielberg and Lucas hand over the reins — and a nearly $300 million budget—  to director James Mangold (Logan), who comes up with manic action sequences and something resembling a story.

Have you ever been to an amusement park with people you can’t stand? Well, that’s basically what you get with this one. Jones is the crusty grandpa of the crew, literally complaining in one scene about how his withering, decaying body shouldn’t have to climb another damn wall. But he’s practically the audience surrogate in comparison to the other characters. 

Waller-Bridge’s Helena is supposed to be a sporty, scheming alternative to the standard-issue damsel-in-distress Indy often gets saddled with. (She even has her own kid sidekick — think of a brown-skinned Short Round.) However, her character is written as an obnoxious cynic who constantly teeters between doing it for the money or doing it for the thrill of discovery. Anyone who’s seen Fleabag knows that Waller-Bridge can play (and write) acerbic, vulnerable women quite well. It’s a shame she wasn’t one of the many writers (which includes summer-movie vet David Koepp and brothers Jez & John-Henry Butterworth) involved in scripting this. Then again, this whole franchise is unfortunately littered with lackluster female characters. Letting someone with lady parts come in and create a better one would just ruin the good thing they got going.

Of course, since Mikkelsen (aka the TV Hannibal Lecter) is playing the heavy, his resident Nazi oozes with creepy self-centeredness. There’s a cringy scene where he grills a Black hotel employee/WWII vet about where he’s originally from before coldly reminding the guy where he ended up after the war. So, not only is this dude sinister, but he’s a straight-up dick, surrounded by trigger-happy henchmen who are also dicks. These bad guys are so flagrant with their awful, assholish behavior, it’s almost hilarious to watch. 

For a movie that’s basically about how the past should be left the hell alone, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny stubbornly works its ass off to take you back to those glory days of Ford whipping muhfuckas left and right. But even with all the Easter eggs, returning characters and other bits of nostalgia, it’s still a grating, globetrotting journey. Besides, if the guy who’s leading this expedition isn’t all that excited to be there, then why should we?

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