Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)

Preceded in equal measure by hype and skepticism, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Doom proves to be a worthy conclusion (at least as far as we know) to a saga that holds its loops tight without forgetting the passage of time. At a time when James Mangold’s film shows he knows how to do his best, anticipating a possible overcoming but then repeating his inevitable weight.

From time to time, fate is fate

The excitement that preceded it Indiana Jones and the Dial of Doom, the fifth episode of the saga that has deeply captured the imagination of cinephiles over the past forty years, was probably matched only by the skepticism that has accompanied its realization since the announcement of the start of production. Years, on the other hand, do exist, and one cannot pretend that they do not exist: it is in this sense that the choice of using the much discussed disinfection about the protagonist (already announced long before the first details of the plot were known) only in the first long flashback set in 1944, and also in another short moment useful as a narrative link. Years, iconic character played Harrison Fordbrings them all here, apparently with a weight of awareness, even if not with the pride one might expect: this is a melancholy Indiana, what a movie James Mangold shows us AD 1969, forced to play the part of a grumpy old man with a neighborhood hippie gang, with a failed marriage to Marion with a face Karen Allen, and the loss of a son in the hell of Vietnam. The time is certain Very to change yourself. However, the call of adventure again makes itself felt in the form of a goddaughter (new entry Phoebe Waller-Bridges) who knocks on his door in search of an old artifact (the legendary Antikythera Machine attributed to Archimedes) and an old enemy (a Nazi archaeologist with a face Mads Mikkelsen) who has more than one pending account with us. There is still work to be done before the curtain finally falls.

We still need him

Still from Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny at Cannes 2023
Harrison Ford rejuvenated in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate

WITH Indiana Jones and the Dial of DoomJames Mangold seems to condense in the first wonderful twenty minutes everything a viewer would want to see in an Indiana Jones movie: gripping adventure, physicality and a de-ageing protagonist who (almost) always manages to regain his prowess and centering that time—the much more unforgiving time that passes in front of the camera—is inevitably stolen from him. Then, however, we come to the present: and what we are dealing with is a seventy-year-old Indy, who, however – in accordance with himself – is still a restless person. Restless, because unresolved, because (too much) friend of the bottle in which old ghosts are diluted, because he cannot come to terms with the present, in which old enemies (Nazis) have received forgiveness from that empire of goodness, for which there is so much beaten – and now also contributes to the historic goal of landing on the moon; restless, because the evil (un)adventure in Vietnam mercilessly took both his only son and his old and only love. There is only one way to silence the ghosts, this is probably the last time to grab a hat, a leather jacket and a whip and explain to the Nazi villain on duty – here is the Luciferian Mads Mikkelsen, who scolds Hitler, surrendered and even how to replace him – what not, as long as he is around you won’t get through, and that the darkest past must be buried forever. Once and for all, because this is the only sure way to come to terms with the present.

Not just a tribute

Indiana Jones and the dial of fate, Mads Mikkelsen in one scene
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate, Mads Mikkelsen in a still from the movie

Component autumn what we have tried to describe here, mind you, is present only against the light, in the substratum hidden under the pompous surface of this Indiana Jones and the Dial of Doom, the first film in a forty-year saga to be orphaned by its historical creators (George Lucas and Steven Spielberg). Many conclusions can be drawn about the reason for the farewell of the two noble fathers, which, however, have very little meaning in a particular context. What matters is that in this episode, Mangold manages to take the reins of the franchise – and then shelve it, at least in this form, perhaps for good – with style and confidence, offering a direction that is a concentration of action with modern and vintage. mood, with the right rhythm for today (and how to use it), grafted onto feel from other times. The limitations of the digital component, which is unusual for a Disney-branded product, should be understood in this sense: no matter that the tricks that integrate the presence of an eighty-year-old Ford are doing their job. Job; it is important to reconsider the prologues that take place on the train, horse rides under the subway and in carriages through the desert, diving and fighting moray eels and descending into ancient dungeons inhabited by scorpions. All this not only as a tribute to a past that still refuses to become a dusty family heirloom (and when was that in the Indy saga?), but also as a proud determination to still have a voice, no matter what. Because this hat, perhaps, only death will hang on a nail when it comes. And now is not the time.

Ability to synthesize

Indiana Jones and the Disc of Destiny, Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in one scene
Indiana Jones and the Disc of Destiny, Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in a still from the movie

Detractors of the discussed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull paradoxically, they will feel more comfortable here, with explicit quotations that take care to indulge the nostalgic viewer, to emphasize – fortunately not too didactically – that the universe of reference is always the same; those who have not neglected the fourth film in the franchise (and whoever writes belongs in this category) will be able to appreciate how James Mangold manages to synthesize, to make his film without succumbing to canon requirements in order to restore old characters (Sallah, played by John Rhys-Davies, missing since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), giving them functionality and a new thickness. The pace is hectic but generous, the director orchestrating action sequences that are not blind to the needs of the 2023 audience (between quick cuts and close-ups), but retain that readability and that epic breadth at their core. have always been a trademark of the saga. A deviation from the last part, which we avoid spoiling even where it will now be known to the majority, might make a part of the public turn up their noses; but, according to the writer, it turns out to be consistent with the narrative construction, which constantly catches the eye – without even explicitly recalling it – a fantastic and fable-like component. After all, the same deaging of the prologue (here, perhaps, proposed in its best, albeit not perfect, version) what else is there if not a “magic” and technological challenge of time? But Indy is still him, even with his wrinkles and impulsiveness, so delightfully naive in a new context. His rebirth in this guise, perhaps, makes you love him even more.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Italian poster


Original name: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Doom
Director: James Mangold
Country/year: USA / 2023
Duration: 142′
Type: adventure, action
Throw: Antonio Banderas, Toby Jones, Harrison Ford, John Rhys-Davies, Mads Mikkelsen, Boyd Holbrook, Nasser Memarcia, Olivier Richters, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Alaa Safi, Andy M. Milligan, Arthur Silens, David Stokes, Ethann Isidore, Jill Winternitz , Mark Killin, Martin McDougall, Mike Dickman, Shonet René Wilson, Thomas Kretschmann
Screenplay: James Mangold, David Koepp, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth
Photo: Phaedon Papamichael
Assembly: Dirk Westervelt, Michael McCusker, Andrew Buckland
Music: John Williams
Director: Anthony Dixon, Simon Emanuel, Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy, Candice Campos, Blake Simon
Production house: Walt Disney Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm
Distribution: Walt Disney Films

Release date: 06/28/2023


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Journalist and film critic. I am or have collaborated with various web and print publications including (in chronological order) L’Acchiappafilm, and Since 2018, I have been a consultant for the Stelle Diverse and Aspie Saturday Film psychoeducational reviews organized by the CuoreMenteLab center in Rome. In 2019, I founded the website Asbury Movies, of which I am the Editor and Managing Director.

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