As Indiana Jones is set to retire as a professor at Hunter College, his goddaughter Helena Shaw pulls him back into the treasure-hunting game for one last run. Directed by James Mangold and co-written by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth and David Koepp, this new film brings together new and old characters alike. The Dial of Destiny has been a long time coming, as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas landed a deal for four sequels to Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) with Paramount Pictures in 1979. However, this film was distributed by Walt Disney Studios, as they officially gained purchasing and sequel rights to Lucasfilm in 2021, with Speilberg and Lucas both credited as executive producers for this film. Along with that, this fifth installment is the sole film in the series franchise to not see Spielberg in the director’s chair or Lucas as the writer. The Dial of Destiny introduces new actors, including Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the woman lead, while bringing back some familiar faces from the franchise.
This action-packed film opens in 1944 during World War II where Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and Basil Shaw (Toby Jones) are hunting for the Lance of Longinus. However, the plan goes off track when Shaw is captured by Nazis and Jones’ cover is blown. Once Jones finds his way to the train that is filled with treasures and antiques that the Nazis had plundered, he first comes face to face with German astrophysicist Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen). After establishing that the Lance of Longinus onboard the train is a replica, Jones finds Shaw, who tells him that Voller has found half of the Archimedes’ Dial, a time-travelling device that finds apertures in time for its users to jump into. Both Jones and Shaw manage to escape the train, with half of Archimedes’s Dial in tow, just seconds before the train derails on a bombed bridge. The movie cuts to the film’s present time period in July 1969, during the celebration of Apollo 11. Jones is seen in his apartment preparing for his final day as an archeology professor at Hunter College. After his staff retirement party, Jones heads to a local bar, where he sees his goddaughter Helena Shaw (Waller-Bridge), the daughter of Basil Shaw, for the first time since she was a child. Shaw informs Jones that she is writing her thesis on the infamous Archimedes’ Dial, the same device that drove her late father crazy. While Jones attempts to warn Shaw of the dial’s dangerous powers, he eventually takes her to see the device that they retrieved 25 years prior. As the celebrations for the first human moon landing continue, it is revealed that Voller is a current NASA employee, who played a large part in the successful mission. When Jones and Shaw are suddenly attacked by Voller’s assistants and CIA Agent Mason (Shaunette Renée Wilson) who are in pursuit of the Dial, it changes everything for the pair. It seems that Jones is in for another adventure, hoping to save history once more.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny first premiered on May 18, 2023 at the 76th Cannes Film Festival, where it received mostly unfavourable reviews from critics. The film was officially released in theatres on June 30, 2023, where it managed to bring in a fairly disappointing $130 million at the global box office during its opening weekend. With the film costing nearly $300 million to produce, it currently holds the title of the 13th most expensive film to make in the 21st century. While Rotten Tomatoes critics gave the film a 68 percent rating, the audience score produced more hopeful reviews with a rating of 88 percent.
In my opinion, this final installment of Indiana Jones gave viewers one final, grand adventure that holds your attention for the full film. Relatively speaking, a bulk of this film’s target audience is an older generation, the fans that have been loyal to the franchise since 1981. The Dial of Destiny does not disappoint in engaging this particular audience, bringing back some fan favourites from the past four films. However, this installment offers a fresh perspective into the franchise for younger audiences, with Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Ethann Isidore bringing a light-hearted, almost ironic humour to the film. There is a captivating mixture between action and adventure and tear-jerking scenes in this film, tying the series together for its final run.
Whether you are a longtime fan of Jones or are new to the franchise altogether, this film is a perfect watch to kick-start your summer.
You can catch Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny at your local Cineplex theatre today.