Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)

“The Dial of Destiny” is significant not only in that it’s a movie primarily about time, but about wanting to go back in time and fix mistakes. The Indiana Jones we see here is not the Indiana Jones we saw in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or even “The Last Crusade.” He’s older, he’s war torn, and he’s grappling with so much regret that he’s lost his passion for adventuring. When we see Indiana Jones he’s a man who has lived two full lives and he’s thrust back in to what is arguably his final adventure and it’s bittersweet.

Legendary hero, Indiana Jones, returns in the fifth installment of this beloved swashbuckling series of films. Finding himself in a new era, and approaching retirement, Indy wrestles with fitting into a world that seems to have outgrown him. But as the tentacles of an all-too-familiar evil return in the form of an old rival, Indy must don his hat and pick up his whip once more to make sure an ancient and powerful artifact doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Teaming up with his long lost god daughter Helena, and a young thief named Teddy, Indy must ensure the safety of the world once again.

The return to the role that helped make him an icon, Harrison Ford lends a different sensibility to Jones this time around. He’s so much more torn apart and bruised than when we last saw him, and he’s someone that is sadly falling victim to the sands of time. His aim is off, his stamina is limited, and in a callback to better times when he attempts to barrel past a large soldier, he bounces back only to be forced down in to his seat begrudgingly. Thankfully Jones isn’t a completely meek individual as he’s still packing so much finesses and ability to outsmart the villains of the piece. Director James Mangold thankfully adheres to the classic serial tone that the previous films adopted, even offering up the classic Nazi super villains.

Mads Mikkelson is very good in the role as the film’s central villain Dr. Voller, a swift and violent Nazi who is desperate to claim the Dial of Destiny. Helping to keep the film’s light hearted tone are Ethann Isadore as a young thief with aspirations of becoming a pilot, and the gorgeous Phoebe Waller Bridge who plays Indy’s long lost god daughter Helena. They’re both very well developed and entertaining new characters that contribute to Indy’s universe and manage to work off of Indy’s crusty cynicism with ease. Whether or not it’s intentional, both characters also feel like callbacks to “Star Wars,” where Isadore’s character felt like a sort of proto-Luke Skywalker. Helena often felt like a pseudo-Han Solo, one who is noble and courageous deep down, but mostly cares about money and the potential fortune this mission promises.

“The Dial of Destiny” is such a worthy addition to the series, offering up some great high speed chases, some fun classic mishaps, and a great underwater trek. What’s best is that the film’s classic macguffin is a lot less a goal and much more about symbolizing how both Indiana and the film’s villain views time. It’s a precious but fleeting element of life that we’d all love to re-claim and help to correct some faults, and it helps give us a deeper insight in to Indiana Jones’ mind along the way. While some might not respond to what “Dial of Destiny” has in store for the mythos, I thought Mangold hit it out of the park with an exciting, invigorating and bittersweet re-visit to an action movie icon.