Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny movie review: Harrison Ford still packs a punch


His hat is back. His whip is back. His ophidiophobia – that’s fear of snakes – is back. And, briefly, as the film begins, so is Indiana Jones’s youth. Nevertheless, for all the unremitting action, this is a finale that, like its protagonist, is definitely showing its age.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opens with Harrison Ford’s great adventurer back in war-torn Germany, fighting those pesky über-looting Nazis and – thanks to the de-ageing CGI used by Martin Scorsese in The Irishman – Ford is miraculously young again. The de-ageing is less troublesome than some of the other CGI, which is at times risibly rough.

But has director James Mangold also miraculously returned the franchise to the youthful splendour of Raiders of the Lost Ark? No, but there are enough elements in this final instalment that certainly catapult it above its ill-judged predecessor Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Mangold has filched many beloved Indy tropes and jam-packed them into his film. First of all, of course, is Harrison Ford. Age might have withered him, but he is still a charismatic leading man and he still looks like he can pack a punch.

There are Nazis; a cute little orphan boy; a feisty Girl Friday, Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge); a sexy enemy, Jurgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) and a bookish but brave professor (Toby Jones). There are red lines plotting routes on a map, familiar faces from previous adventures, and a preposterous story that takes us on a madcap ride from Nazi Germany to 1960s New York, Tangiers and Syracuse.

And when I say madcap ride, I am not kidding. Indiana Jones spends a lot of his time leaping either on or off a train, a boat, a horse, a tuk-tuk or a Fiat 500. There is no form of transport that he doesn’t fight on or chase Nazis with.

All of this accompanied by that familiar Indiana theme and it’s often the music buoying the film along during these relentless action sequences. Friends and foes are dispatched before we’ve got to know them, and everybody is a killer in the making.

Despite taking place in the late 1960s with men landing on the moon and David Bowie on the radio, this film seems redolent of the past. Waller-Bridge looks the part: sporting jodhpurs and a bob, she has the look of Katherine Hepburn in her heyday.

She has also brought a little Fleabag notoriety with her: no handsome man can escape her attention, her eyebrow raised like a sexual antenna when one arrives into her orbit.

Unlike a Hepburn-Grant screwball comedy, though, the film is short of any real zingers, the script often clunky and frankly offensive, with Indy at one point saying: ‘You’re German, Voller. Don’t try to be funny’. The screenplay (by Mangold and Jez Butterworth) does, however, provide a few big laughs.

Yet it would be churlish to be too harsh on the final episode of this franchise. There are some genuinely moving scenes as we see this fantastic character finally getting ready to hang up his hat for the last time. Thanks, Indy, it’s been quite a ride.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is in cinemas from June 28