Friday 19 May 2023

Cannes 2023 - Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny by James Mangold

After the dreadful and misguided Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it is reassuring that this new and last sequel (at least with Harrison Ford), The Dial of Destiny, feels like an Indiana Jones film again, especially in this more successful and thrilling first half. The exciting, extended prologue set in the dying days of the nazis, has Indy yet again trying to get his hands on some artefacts they stole. While the de-ageing process is still not quite there yet, Harrison Ford looking nearly like his younger self (except for some weirdly digital looking eyes). Set in a nazi stronghold in a German castle then on a speeding train at night, this opening bring back some echoes of the Last Crusade's middle section with its similar setting and vibes. it is one of many action set pieces that very nearly bring the spirit of the original trilogy back, despite some now inevitable and surprisingly obvious CGI backgrounds, a complaint that carries through the running time.

Fast forward a few decades later and just as Indiana Jones is retiring from teaching, he is contacted by Helena Shaw, the niece of an old friend, requesting his help to look for a mythical artefact that is said to have some history changing properties. No sooner has she made her appearance that they are chased by a group of baddies lead by nazi across New York and yet again the director shows a real talent for conjuring up a fun and fast-paced 

Helena turns out to be a morally dubious grifter who can more than handle herself in the face of danger but is not adverse to double-crossing anyone if she gains to profit from it and as Helena Phoebe Waller-Bridge is one of the highlights of the film, sassy but never annoying and bringing much wit and energy throughout the running time.

The film then follows a familiar narrative arc of a wild goose chase around the world where one discovery leads to a clue to the next one. After a particularly exciting set piece in Tangiers with a chase that bears more than a passing ressemblance to a similar scene in Spielberg's Tintin, this is where the writing becomes more hesitant, with the distinct feeling that there is one step too many in that chase with Antonio Banderas turning up in a small and unremarkable for whatever reason. From that moment the action sags and lacks focus, makes the near 2h30mn running time even more unjustified before taking a bold a surprising direction in its final act. Yet even this part does not feel fully developed, with the story not making the most of an intriguing idea.

While it is uneven with a second half that loses its way, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a still a fitting end to the franchise even if its far below the original trilogy.

Review by Laurent de Alberti

Official Selection, Out of Competition

Star rating: 

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. Directed by James Mangold. Starring Harrison Ford, Mads Mikkelsen, Phoebe Waller-Bridge...

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