Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)
Synopsis: In the last 1960s, an elderly Indiana Jones is in mourning over the loss of his son, living on his own after a separation from his wife, Marion, and struggling to find his place in a world that just landed me on the moon. He receives a visit from his 30-year-old goddaughter, Helena, who is seeking the half of Archimedes' Dial Indiana and her father rescued from the Nazis during World War II. Indiana both learns she plans to sell the artifact and a group of men, led by a Nazi mathematician who now works for NASA under an assumed name, are looking to reassemble the full dial because of it is believed to let people travel through time.
Review: Indiana Jones (Ford) is easily my favorite movie character and while I'll never claim to love all Indiana Jones films equally, I can honestly say there wasn't one I didn't enjoy (and, yes, I am including Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in that too). That said, when I learned they were going to make this movie with a much older Ford in the lead role again, I did admittedly roll my eyes a bit. However, since it was the last of a great series of films, I wound up buying tickets to see it on opening weekend anyway.
I have no regrets. The film more than exceeded my expectations.
There is a lot to like about this movie. For one, there is a lot of action in it. The film starts out with him surviving an explosion and trying to escape a Nazi train that is being bombed by allied forces and manages to keep the non-action scenes to a minimum from that point forward, whether it is a fight scene, a car chase or trying to survive eels underwater.
The plot itself is also more enjoyable than I expected. The idea of Nazis wanting to use the dial to change the outcome of World War II gave the movie a firm sense of purpose and, unlike in other Indiana Jones films, the main bad guy (Mikkelsen) was smart enough to figure things out on his own, making the whole "let's just not look for it" option not applicable for the heroes. I also liked the surprise twist involving the device's time travel abilities.
I wasn't sure I would enjoy the female lead, Helena (Waller-Bridge) at first but she wound up being one of my favorite things about this movie. In addition to being a bit of a wildcard because she seemed willing to put money above everything else, I appreciated how the movie managed to have a strong female presence who wasn't a love interest nor a damsel in distress. Jones still gets to be the hero, but Helena saves the day almost as often, providing a good balance. In fact, I kind of want to see a spinoff movie with her.
The movie also proved to be a great way to say goodbye to the franchise, slipping in the beloved Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) for a bit and sealing the love story between Indiana and Marion (Karen Allen) with a fantastic throwback to Raiders of the Lost Ark. I don't normally get emotional when watching movies but am not ashamed to admit I had tears in my eyes at the end.
Final Opinion: Is it as good as some of the other movies from the Indiana Jones franchise? No. However, it was still a movie I enjoyed watching and I can't think of a better way to say goodbye to a character I have loved to watch since childhood. At minimum, Ford proves you can be an action hero even in your 80s.
My Grade: A