“I’m very impressed, I’m very impressed with it,” Ford said. “They say that when you’re about to die, you see your life flash before your eyes. And I saw my life flash before my eyes – A big part of my life, but not my whole life. My life is enabled by my lovely wife,” he said, looking at Calista Flockhart’s audience. He then told the audience he loved them — people shouted, “We love you!” In return — and after a few more sweetly harsh words, Ford reminded the room that “I have a movie you should see.”
That movie, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” – oops, I mean. “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” – Alas, there was a disappointment and not only because a funny, bleary-eyed and charming Harrison Ford is a difficult act to declare his love to fans. One problem is that the film itself plays like a greatest hits reel. It’s full of Nazis, chase sequences, explosions, crashes and just about every adventure movie cliché the series has deployed and recycled since its inception, though unlike the Cannes reel, something about this 154-minute slog Not offensive either.
It’s too bad. Ford certainly deserves better, and director James Mangold can do better. (He shares script credits with Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth and David Koepp.) Mangold has toggled between Hollywood and indie wood throughout his career, with credits includingPolicelandAn indie crime drama with Sylvester Stallone, and “Logan” One of the best Marvel superhero movies. “Logan” was particularly surprising because Mangold managed to put his stamp on material that is often so deliberately generic and industrial that the results could have come off an assembly line.
“The Dial of Fate” – the title alone wasn’t good – isn’t terrible. it is Too much and anemic at the same time, both too much and not nearly enough. It’s also pretty random for almost the first half. It opens in Europe in 1944 as Indy is manhandled by the Nazis amid much choreographed chaos, his head covered in a cloth bag. When the bag comes off, it reveals a disturbingly digitally de-aged Ford, looking much like he did in the first two films. A lot happens and reoccurs, mostly character introductions, descriptions and stuff moving quickly.
The film improves in the second half, slow and quiet enough for the actors to do more than run around, grimace and scream. Until then, the casting of the fleabag, AKA Phoebe Waller Bridge, as Indy’s latest partner in adventure makes sense, whether she’s flexing her action-chick muscles or giggling. He’s fun to watch, as are Mads Mickelson, Toby Jones and Antonio Banderas, who pop in and out with a wink and a tease.