Indiana Jones: The Dial of Destiny is another great edition in the franchise and a far more fitting ending than the last film, while it is not without problems.
Harrison Ford remains impressive, and Mads Mikkelsen excels as always. The set pieces are outstanding, especially the opening sequence, a true embodiment of Indiana Jones. It seamlessly fits within the franchise. As Indiana Jones’ final chapter unfolds, the thoughts get mixed. Is it because of time travel? No. Indiana Jones has always had some element of weirdness, ranging from the supernatural to literal aliens. The concern lies in the movie feeling underwhelming for a series finale.
That leads to one of my few critiques of this film: there’s too much action. When we think of the beloved films in the franchise, the action is frequently offset by a large number of slow scenes, where the characters are allowed to merely exist and play off of each other. Now maybe this is just an issue with modern filmmaking as a whole, but these scenes are much fewer and farther between now, which limits character’s interactions entirely to quippy one-liners in between punches.
The movie successfully hit all the necessary points: highlighting Indy’s age, passing the torch to Wombat, reintroducing classic characters like Sallah and Marion, and bringing back the Nazis as villains. James Mangold, known for Logan, effectively delivered on these aspects.
Indiana Jones, as a character, does not fit for the film’s solemn, introspective character study. This is a character designed to represent lighthearted escapism, as seen by the fact that the first three films never delved too deep or too serious with Indy. Even with all of its problems, Crystal Skull didn’t accomplish this. So we have The Dial of Destiny attempting to change gears into darker, more dramatic terrain and failing miserably.
Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) died in the Vietnam War, as revealed. It’s too gloomy and abrupt learning to create a lasting impression, especially because the next scene is a thrilling dive to a shipwreck. You simply want the movie to slow down so you can take it all in. However, if the film slows down, it ceases to be a fun Indiana Jones film.
A different version of this narrative may have worked. If the plot revolved on Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood embarking on one more adventure. You can keep Mutt Williams dying as long as the plot is about Indy and Marion reuniting with each other.
Dial of Destiny doesn’t work since the tale revolves around Indy, his goddaughter (whose father is a new character), and this strange child who was basically Short Round 2.0. And it’s annoying since the movie’s biggest emotional surprise was Indy talking about his deceased kid and divorce. Sorry, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, but Marion should have been the emphasis of that scene. It’s even more frustrating because Mutt’s death has no meaning for Wombat as a character. She didn’t know him, so the most she could have said in that scenario was, “Sorry for your loss.”
It Could’ve Been Better!
Wombat could’ve easily been recast as Marcus Brody’s kid (or if you wanna get spicy, she was Willie Scott’s daughter with Indy, making her Mutt Williams’ half-sister). Teddy could have been Sallah’s son. These may appear to be minor changes, but they would provide a stronger link to the past. Given that this is Indiana Jones’ final expedition, the film should have been more based in Indy’s previous adventures, even if the linkages are primarily with legacy characters.
Overall, this is an Indiana Jones film from start to finish. A proper grandiose epic like we haven’t seen in a long time. Nonetheless, it is a Hollywood blockbuster, with everything it entails. I’d recommend seeing it in theatres, or at the very least watching it with a group of friends. You’ll all be cheering and laughing at the same time.