After a wait of more than a decade, it’s fair to say that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny was one of Corner of Film’s most anticipated movies of 2023. The sequel has long been set to continue – and conclude – the story of Indiana Jones, and has been tipped as Harrison Ford’s last outing in the fedora. This placed an overwhelming weight of expectation on the film that was never going to be easy to carry.

Indiana Jones 5 follows an older Indy as he finds himself drawn into the hunt for the Antikythera, an artifact fabled to allow the user to control time. A relic of the ancient world crafted by Archimedes, the Antikythera is also the quarry of Indy’s goddaughter, Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and a former Nazi scientist named Voller (Mads Mikkelsen). Naturally, being an Indiana Jones movie, the adventure takes Indy on a tour of the globe as he races to keep the artifact away from the forces of evil.

It’s only fair to acknowledge the impossible task that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny had before it. After the abysmal Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and its aliens, there was an expectation that Dial of Destiny should return the franchise to its roots. However, with a star over three decades older than he was in The Last Crusade, this seemed all but impossible for an action-heavy franchise. Even so, Dial of Destiny is a valiant effort, making its shortcomings far easier to dismiss.

Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny Isn’t Without Its Issues

Harrison Ford de-aged using CGI in Indiana Jones 5

With regard to returning to its roots, Indiana Jones 5 opens with a prolonged scene set at the end of World War II. For this, Harrison Ford has been digitally de-aged using CGI, allowing for plenty of traditional Indy action (presumably using a younger body double). The CGI leaves a great deal to be desired, but the necessity of this sequence to tie the film’s present to the character’s past is abundantly clear. Uncanny valley effect aside, it’s a fun sequence that recaptures the swashbuckling action of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Dial of Destiny also continues one of the Indiana Jones franchise’s most unfortunate trends: plot holes. Though these far from break the film, there are still a number of nagging narrative inconsistencies that prove somewhat frustrating, particularly as they’d easily have been dispelled with a simple line of dialogue. Even so, there’s a line of logic that runs through proceedings which keeps Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny feeling distinctly coherent – it’s true to itself, even if its rules are based in historically-driven science fiction.

Dial Of Destiny Gives Indy The Ending He Deserves In More Ways Than One

Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)

From the very start, Dial of Destiny has the feel of a true Indiana Jones adventure. It avoids the over-the-top set pieces of Crystal Skull, and instead settles into a specific type of self-awareness. It’s a film that knows its protagonist is too old to run and jump the way he used to. The days of Indy being a bona fide action hero are long gone, and the film is under no illusions to the contrary.

What Indiana Jones 5 does instead is shift the focus back to adventuring. Yes, there’s adventuring, and yes, there’s action, but it’s organic to the character as he exists today. This allows the subtext of time and age to seep into the film’s every scene, because it’s clear Indy can’t do things the way he used to. In this, the film’s story gets its tone and atmosphere exactly right.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny also gets its supporting characters spot on. Phoebe Waller-Bridge in particular oozes an easy and gently comedic charisma that perfectly complements Ford’s slightly crochety Jones. Mikkelsen carries off the calm, calculating evil of a Nazi all too well, rounding out the film’s central trio with the sort of villain that feels both new and decidedly familiar.

Why Dial Of Destiny Is Jones’ Perfect Farewell

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)

As the fifth and final film in the franchise, Dial of Destiny does its job. Though it’s far from perfect, it’s tonally and thematically consistent with every previous film (remarkably, even the underwhelming Crystal Skull). It manages to capture the essence of the character while also communicating that his adventuring days are behind him.

Though it would be all too easy to criticize the abundant use of CGI or the retroactive inclusion of characters never previously mentioned, the necessity of doing so is clear. Dial of Destiny brings Indy’s past to his present, allowing him to come to terms with his own history before moving on. It allows the character to deal with his personal regrets and his grief in the only way he knows how: by punching Nazis in the face. A fitting way to leave things, at least by our standards.

Rating: 70%

Summary: Though the film suffers somewhat for the decades of delay in giving Indy his ending, it’s still a fitting send off. For its issues, it’s a touching tribute to the franchise’s roots, and it avoids the pitfalls of its unpopular predecessor.

Highlight: The slightly meta commentary on Indy contending with time itself to deliver one final story creeps subtly into Dial of Destiny, and by its end helps the film to deliver a touching conclusion to the character’s story.