It’s been over 40 years since archaeologist Indiana Jones first cracked his bullwhip on the big screen. Now Harrison Ford dons the iconic fedora once again in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, a globe-trotting adventure directed by James Mangold. While not reaching the sheer classic heights of the original trilogy, Dial of Destiny provides a rousing final ride for one of cinema’s greatest heroes.
The film opens with a 1944 prologue that sees Indy on a mission to foil Nazis acquiring an ancient relic. After a rip-roaring fight on a moving train, the story jumps to 1969 where an aged Indiana Jones has reluctantly taken to teaching college. But adventure soon calls when a former colleague goes missing while tracking a mysterious ancient dial rumored to hold cosmic powers. Indy swiftly returns to daring form as he jets around the world seeking the artifact while confronting new villains.
Ford immediately settles back into the role that made him a megastar, as if no time has passed. His gruff and weary Indy feels appropriate to the age of the character while retaining that familiar spark. When action strikes, Ford can still deliver fist-flying battles with vine-swinging bravado. But there’s added gravitas and melancholy that comes with maturity, giving Ford room for poignancy.
Director James Mangold captures the sweeping nostalgic grandeur of an old-school event film while not just relying on callbacks. Epic landscapes and ancient ruins provide classic Indy backdrops. The action set pieces feel fresh rather than recycled, like a New York highrise chase or motorcycle shootout. John Williams’ iconic score perfectly punctuates the adventure. Dial of Destiny wisely balances legacy and telling a solid standalone story.
Co-writer Jez Butterworth introduces appealing new characters alongside Indy. Antonio Banderas makes a strong addition as an old friend of Indy’s, while Toby Jones chews scenery as the main villain. Rising star Phoebe Waller-Bridge also impresses as Indy’s free-spirited goddaughter, injecting fresh energy into the archeologist’s world. This endearing odd couple chemistry becomes a highlight.
As the globe-trotting plot unfolds, Mangold blends humor, romance and white-knuckle suspense beats. The dial’s cosmic powers open the door to some inventive visual sequences. Watching Indy regain his adventurer mojo results in crowdpleasing moments. And the central relationships carry an emotional weight past films lacked. Dial of Destiny just misses having a truly iconic villain, but otherwise delivers the quintessential Indy package.
The movie’s extensive supporting cast offers fun side characters but limits deeper development. Mads Mikkelsen feels underused as an Indy ally, while the main villains veer toward campy. And beloved Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) only briefly appears to reunite with Indy. But again, Ford is undoubtedly the main draw, and he consistently delights.
Dial of Destiny builds to an extravagant climax on par with early Indy adventures. After chaos in Berlin, the wild third act takes us on a mind-bending journey to other realms while resolving Indy’s quest. The cutting-edge VFX and imaginative setting provide an eye-popping conclusion to Indy’s cinematic journey, while leaving the door open for more.
In the end, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny overcomes the long gap since Indy’s last crusade to deliver crowd-pleasing entertainment. James Mangold honoring the franchise’s roots while forging his own path results in a satisfying final ride for the legendary hero. Led by Harrison Ford embracing the fedora with grace, this enjoyable comeback proves Indy still has spectacular adventures left in him.