Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Long, lifeless, and irritating

Jiří Stacho

10/3/20233 min read

I recently had the displeasure of watching Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. At this point you know the drill. Hollywood takes beloved characters and turns them into pitiful and lonely losers. All our heroes need to be turned into complete and utter failures to step aside and let the all-knowing much better at everything instantly super strong woman that are clearly the producers’ self inserts take the spotlight. And no matter how much money they lose each time they release this ideologically driven crap, they go even harder and stupider next time.

The head of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy is remarkable at this and although she has increasingly more and more competition in destroying successful franchises and creating insufferable self-insert characters, with Indiana Jones Kennedy proves she’s still the leading franchise destroyer. It used to be that people were excited to see movies and surprised when it turned out to be bad. Nowadays, it's not necessary to go see the movie to realize it’s garbage. This is the new default for movie goers; the movie is crap unless proven otherwise.

Dial of Destiny is lifeless and uninteresting. The CGI action is so bad that it makes you feel detached from the movie. Harrison Ford is eighty years old, and it shows. If they had actually gone with Indiana's son from Kingdom of Crystal Skull and made Indiana a supporting character, it would have been much more suitable for an aging Harrison Ford. However, Shia is persona non grata these days. So, the son is dead, and Indiana is an old loser, a relic of the past. The flippant way they mentioned Indy's son's demise is no surprise to anyone who pays attention to current Hollywood trends. Thankfully, we have a female Indy who can do everything while being incredibly charming and pleasant. Phoebe Waller-Bridge takes over as the new and improved Indiana Jones. She is so lovable; I can't imagine who wouldn't want to spend a large amount of time with her. I wouldn't be surprised if Disney actually throws up another Indy movie with Waller-Bridge in a leading role. Kathleen Kennedy has proven to be quite resilient, even though everything she touches turns into an absolute failure.

I'm not a fan of CGI de-aging in general, but seeing Indiana in the opening sequence, back when he was still capable, is nice, especially considering the miserable suffering that is the rest of the movie. The movie is over two and a half hours long. Such a runtime is justified with Mission: Impossible 7 and The Dark Knight Rises, both of which earned it. It is certainly not deserved here. Ford's performance is subdued, and he seems to be humiliated at every turn, almost as if he's sleepwalking through the movie. Waller-Bridge's character is insufferable and annoying, and even Mads Mikkelsen, playing the same bad guy for the twentieth time, won't save it. These characters are not worthy of two and a half hours of screentime, and it noticeably drags. The one interesting thing about Mads Mikkelsen's villain is that he believes Hitler screwed up and wants to go back in time to ensure Germany wins the war. That's a concept worth exploring. Unfortunately, it seems that the people who made this movie were clearly not focused on that aspect.

When they finally travel back in time, it goes much further, and they go back to when the Romans were invading Greece. What is more, they start shooting at the Romans from automatic weapons. This is as pointless and dumb as it sounds. Indy even wanted to stay in the ancient time because he was lonely. Of course, the Indy we know would never put the entire world at risk by doing such a thing, especially for such a silly reason. Moreover, Phoebe knocks him down and takes his old ass back. You know, nothing disrespectful or anything.

If Disney was interested in telling good stories, they had a few options. How about this: You have old Harrison Ford returning. Use it to make a grittier story where old Indy needs to rely on his vast knowledge and experience to substitute for his loss of agility and physical strength. That would be a decent way to show that when life takes something away, it gives you something else. Ford is still (or maybe now even more than before) charismatic and has a wise but vulnerable stare. A similar thing happened to Sylvester Stallone. You can keep Indy’s son dying in war as it would fit the grittier story. It could show how Indy and Marion deal with the tragedy of their son's death but still show that eventually, there’s a way forward even in the darkest of moments.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is not a good movie, but Indiana at least stays true to the character. It’s a fun Indy story, and the wedding at the end with Marion creating a whole family unit is the proper ending. Dial of Destiny is designed to make Indy look as pathetic and terrible as possible. At the end of the movie, Indy reunites with Marion as the movie basically tries to give us the same conclusion that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull did. It’s absolutely pointless, and there’s no justification for this movie’s existence. They destroyed Crystal Skull’s ending just to give us the same ending but much worse.