CANNES, France—First image of Harrison Ford Indiana Jones and the Fate Dial It’s a confusing one. It’s 1945, the war is almost over, and a group of Nazis are trying to squirrel like stolen artifacts. They caught an intruder and put a sack over his head. When his face is revealed, he’s definitely Indiana Jones, aka Ford, but he’s alarmingly shrunken in age. Her face is so smooth. His eyes are so bright. When he speaks, it doesn’t sound like the words are really coming out of his mouth. It can also be called Indiana Jones and the Uncanny Valley.
Aging mostly disappears after the 20-minute opening sequence, and the action jumps to 1969. But during a screening at the Cannes Film Festival, I found myself most wishing that Harrison Ford would let him be an old man.
Ford is 80 years old and while James Mangold’s movie admits that Indy has seen some shit from time to time, it also mostly ignores the physical realities of what an 80-year-old body can do. Old Indy gets on a police horse and drives through the New York City subway system. He punches too many people to count. Scales structures and deep sea dives. I could only think, man, this must be painful.
The movie finally takes into account Ford and Indy’s age, but it’s not too late, although it all ends on a really nice note of grace. Ford’s body aging and other CGI manipulations only serve to show that: Fate Dial he just wants to turn back time instead of doing something new.
That’s convenient in some ways, because this time MacGuffin is all about time travel. The “dial of fate” that bears his name is the “antikythera”, an invention created by Archimedes that can supposedly create cracks in time. It’s the object of an obsession for Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen, sleepwalking in another villain role), a Nazi mathematician currently working for the US space program. (This retrospective detail is often discarded instead of really understanding the plot.)
Indy gets involved when her goddaughter Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge, lovely as ever) visits her in New York and announces that she wants to continue her father Basil’s (Toby Jones) research. Basil entrusted half of the dial to Indy, hoping it would destroy the dial, but our hero, always a lover of artifacts, kept it secret instead. Not surprisingly, Helena isn’t exactly who she says she is – though she’s ultimately an ally – and when she escapes with the device, she takes a walk around the world, including stops in Morocco and Italy. (I always get a little excited when a map showing the way of the adventure takes up the screen.)
The script, attributed to Mangold as well as David Koepp, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth, often serves as filler to jump from chase sequence to chase sequence. Finally, Indy and Helena are joined by Teddy (Ethann Isidore), a cute boy who feels like the writers are attempting to inject some Short Round energy into the material.
When we met Indy in 1969, she was a sullen grump. Son dead – easy way to get rid of Shia LaBeouf character Mutt Williams Crystal Skull Kingdom– and his wife Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) have filed for divorce. He yells at his hippie neighbors and quits teaching. Instead of lustfully desiring her, as they do Raiders of the Lost ArkHis students are just bored now.
But as soon as the action begins, Mangold forgets the gruff, grieving aspects of this old Indy and instead tries to mold him into the man we once knew; . It feels like a missed opportunity to really grapple with an Indy over those years, and it means that the big swan singing style climax didn’t really have the effect it was clearly aiming for.
Mostly, Fate Dial it is just serviceable, does everything exactly as it should, and nothing more. Although Mangold is a talented director known for following logan And vs ford ferrari, he’s also not Steven Spielberg. The compositions are clean and well made but nothing special. (To make fun Crystal Skull Kingdom all you want is at least trying something.)
Maybe unintentionally Indiana Jones and the Fate Dial got me a little depressed. Not because of the narrative—the last hit is actually pretty sweet—but because of the way he clings to a moment long past. Technology can now force our stars to recreate their glory days, and I really don’t want to see that. I want them to improve. Harrison Ford is not Indiana Jones. Raiders and it shouldn’t have to be.
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