What makes Indiana Jones such a great action hero is the everyman quality brought to him by Harrison Ford. Indy isn’t incredibly strong nor does he boast some dizzying intellect, but even though he always manages to find himself a bit in over his head, he gets by being resourceful, brave and incredibly lucky.
Maybe, on a really good day, we could all be Indiana Jones.
It’s this quality that makes the latest installment “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” even possible as Indy can still capably sweep us off on a globe-trotting adventure even as Ford gets ready to celebrate his 81st (!) birthday.
“Dial of Destiny” is the first Indiana Jones adventure without Steven Spielberg in the director’s chair. The loss is felt, but not as sharply as it could have been as James Mangold is a solid director in his own right and competently steers the ship through all of the action.
We find Dr. Jones in New York in the late 1960s as he uncomfortably enters retirement. But before he can even prop his feet up, he gets a visit from his goddaughter Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) in search of a trinket once owned by her late father Basil (Toby Jones).
The object is half of a device designed by Archimedes that may or may not have the power of prediction when fully assembled. We see Indy and Basil acquire the device at the end of World War II from a trainload of Nazis in a sequence that features de-aging technology that pretty convincingly makes Ford look 40 years younger.
Also after Archimedes’ dial is Dr. Voller (villain all-star Mads Mikkelsen), a Nazi scientist Indy swiped the dial from in the first place who shows up in New York at the same time as Helena with an army of goons, setting off a cat-and-mouse chase around the world to acquire both pieces of the dial.
There are the requisite encounters with crumbling skeletons, creepy creatures and familiar faces that you would expect in any Indiana Jones adventure worth its salt. There are also a couple of inspired chase sequences involving Indy on horseback in the middle of a tickertape parade for Apollo astronauts and on a tuk-tuk through the streets of Tangier.
While there are certainly some upgrades from Indy’s last outing “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (no fridges are nuked), you can still see the seams that keep “Dial of Destiny” from reaching the heights of the franchise’s heyday.
But some clunky CGI and glaring plot holes aside, the heart of the series which is delivering a rip-roaring good time still beats strong and makes saddling up for one last archeological adventure totally worth your time.
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, language and smoking.