Even though it was directed by Steven Spielberg, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, released 15 years ago, has left no lasting memory. One could therefore wonder if the adventures of the famous archaeologist, begun in 1981 in Raiders of the Lost Ark, had perhaps not come to an end, so much the effort to try to reinvent them by offering something new had not given the expected result.
The same question arises about this fifth film, directed this time by James Mangold. We know, however, that after Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the series will necessarily have to change course, Harrison Ford, now octogenarian, definitively putting away the whip and the character’s hat.
Although the direction of James Mangold (Ford v Ferrari) is very competent, it turns out that, despite the combination of the ingredients that made the success of the Indiana Jones brand, the magic no longer really operates, insofar as the we rely too much this time on the feeling of nostalgia of the viewer. Watching this new installment, it’s hard not to bring to mind the first films in the series, produced in the 1980s.
Much has been made of the digital rejuvenation that Harrison Ford undergoes in the first 20 minutes or so of this new opus and it is true that the effect – which also benefits Mads Mikkelsen – is particularly well done.
The story begins in 1944 in Nazi Germany and continues 25 years later in America, the Middle East, Greece and Italy. Retired, Indiana Jones was then called upon to resume service with his goddaughter (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), daughter of a researcher who had devoted his life to the study of the famous Archimedes sundial. It is a missing relic whose pieces, once put together, would have the power to span the ages and change the course of history. Of course, the goddaughter is not alone in wanting to recover all the pieces of an object on which her father worked so hard. Former Nazis, who would like to go back in time and pay themselves a victory, are also on the spot.
There’s a lot of action, sure. Crazy races galore too. And Mads Mikkelsen as a Nazi.
The dialogues – often slapped – are also not up to the tongue-in-cheek replies delivered like so many winks in the previous parts.
That said, Harrison Ford impressed critics and held up well. It is mainly thanks to him that the charm works despite everything, especially since the most interesting aspect of the story lies in this desire to make the weight of life felt on an aging character.
Launched last month at the Cannes Film Festival, during which a first version of this text was published, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is now on view.