Monday, 24 June 2024

‘Indiana Jones’ rides once again to fight true evil


One thing certain about the “Indiana Jones” franchise that now spans forty-two years is that there is a comfortable knowledge that one person, namely, Harrison Ford, carries the entire series with memorable assurance.

Contrast Ford’s durable presence over this period of time with the fact that from the beginning of Sean Connery’s portrayal of James Bond in 1962 another four actors from Roger Moore to Pierce Brosnan would take on the mantle of the famous spy over a 40-year timeframe.

Indiana Jones remains one of the most beloved characters brought to the screen, and it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Ford, with his battered brown fedora and leather jacket, having the same staying power in the cultural consciousness.

For “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” a de-aging process would prove necessary to cast the octogenarian Ford’s Indiana Jones into an extended prologue of fighting the Nazis at the tail end of World War II in a quest for the artifact of the Archimedes Dial.

The marvel of digital enhancement does render Ford convincingly age-appropriate in trying to rescue his archeological colleague and friend Basil Shaw (Toby Jones) on a fast-moving train while trying to snatch the Lance of Longinus, a religious relic that turns out to be fake.

The knife that is alleged to have pierced the side of Jesus on the cross may be a counterfeit holy relic, but the Archimedes Dial is a device that purportedly holds the power to locate fissures in time.

Naturally, the Dial is the type of mechanism that could prove disastrous if it falls into the wrong hands, which is why the Nazis are so eager to find the missing piece that would make the device whole.

The prologue proves to be an exciting non-stop twenty- minute sequence of Indy making an escape from a lynching to battling a slew of Nazi villains that culminates with him and Basil in a daring mad dash atop a speeding train.

The action cuts to the film’s present day of 1969 with Indy now an old man living in a modest New York apartment who starts yelling at hippies blaring the Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” that has disturbed his slumber.

His tenure as professor of archeology at New York’s Hunter College comes to an end, and not a moment too soon as it appears Indy’s as bored with teaching as the students in his class show not even the slightest bit of interest in the subject matter.

But one person in the class turns out to be Indy’s estranged goddaughter Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), who he does not immediately recognize, and she’s there for purely mercenary reasons.

Indy has been holding on to one-half of the precious Archimedes Dial, but Helena steals it because she’s a con artist anxious to sell it on the black market to the highest bidder.

Meanwhile, a Nazi nemesis from World War II named Dr. Voller (Mads Mikkelsen), now known as Dr. Schmidt, is working in the U.S. Space Program, but he and his Nazi henchmen are now after Indy and Helena in pursuit of the Dial for nefarious purposes.

Meanwhile, New York City is tossing a ticker-tape parade for the Apollo 11 astronauts who have returned from the moon landing, and the celebration gets interrupted with a chase scene that has Indy stealing a police horse and escaping from the Nazis into the subway system.

From there, the action shifts to Tangiers where Indy stops Helena from selling the Dial at an auction, and they acquire a helpful sidekick in resourceful teenager Teddy (Ethann Bergua-Isidore).

Aside from the frenzied tuk tuk chase through the streets of Tangiers, there’s also a great underwater adventure with Indy’s pal Renaldo (Antonio Banderas) and a far-fetched journey in time travel.

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” may not capture the magic of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” but then neither did some of the sequels that preceded this fifth and final installment of the franchise.

Nevertheless, it’s still fun to see the aging Harrison Ford still wearing the fedora in grand style and cracking the whip with the confidence of his younger self. However, it would have been better not to see an old codger walking around shirtless in his apartment.

Foiling Dr. Voller’s evil Nazi plan to change the course of history is obviously satisfying. When Voller tells an American that “You didn’t win the war. Hitler lost it,” you know this Nazi is a megalomaniac who sees himself as the next Fuhrer.

Let’s face the obvious that the best villains in the “Indiana Jones” movies are Nazis, with Indy slugging it out with them and eventually prevailing. Thwarting Hitler’s goons is box office gold, and should help this final chapter to please the fan base.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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