I have to admit, after the previous last instalment of Indiana Jones (the movie that shall be struck from the record, aka Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) I wasn’t too keen on going to the cinema to endure yet another disappointing final shot at what was my favourite movie trilogy growing up. I mean, I nearly studied archaeology at university because of Indy’s adventures.
Fortunately, my husband (the eternal optimist) convinced me to go. And I’m glad he did.
Spoilers for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny below. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, go do so first.
They say you should never see your heroes grow old (something the 007 writers took a little too literally), and when I saw Indy as a grumpy 70-year-old disillusioned man shouting at his neighbours to keep the noise down, I was almost in tears. Especially right after a flashback sequence in which he was still in his prime and taking on an entire train of Nazis in search of his current prize. (By the way, I did not mind the CGI and thought it was well done and very convincing.) I first saw Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when I was around 13 years old, and Indy has been my hero ever since. I did not want to see what had happened to him after the figurative happily-ever-after. I didn’t want to have my memories of my hero spoiled.
But you know what, life happens, and sometimes the ever-after isn’t all it was cracked up to be. But that doesn’t mean that’s how it needs to end. Indy is in a rough place when we see him post-flashback. His wife has left him, his son is dead, and he’s about to retire. He really doesn’t have much to live for anymore. Until his past comes knocking again in the form of his neglected goddaughter, Helena, who promptly steals an old artifact from him and leaves him a murder suspect, the prisoner of a ruthless bunch of Nazi goons.
Any other man of his advanced years would probably have gone quietly to his end at this point, but no, in true Indy style, he fights his way to freedom and outwits his pursuers, staying one step ahead of them every time – with the help of Helena and Teddy (her own version of Short Round) in tow.
Throughout the movie, my only complaint was that Indy sometimes takes a bit of a back step, assumedly to allow the younger generation to take over. I guess this makes sense in a circle-of-life kind of way, and Helena seems more than willing and capable of following in his footsteps (although for less noble reasons and with far less respect for history), while still leaning on Indy’s knowledge and life experience.
Shenanigans and hijinks ensue, with appearances from old friends and numerous references to inside jokes that will delight die-hard Indiana Jones fans, including a MacGuffin that is too powerful to let fall into Nazi hands (but is pretty useless in the end).
But what truly makes me appreciate this last instalment is the fact that Indy didn’t die. With his life in ruins and dropped in the thick of a historic battle, Indy wants to stay behind. After all, what reason does he have to return to the present? If he stayed, he’d have the chance to see history (the knowledge of which he dedicated his entire life to) for himself. What scholar wouldn’t jump at such an opportunity (hell, I would be very tempted too!)? But Helena refuses to accept this choice and brings him back to the present, where we see Marion return to show us that life isn’t just about the things we do, but about the people we choose to do them with.
As send-offs to old heroes go, this one is pretty good. I’m glad I saw it, and I’m glad I can still rewatch my old favourites without being sad about my hero’s ultimate end.
Have you seen Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny yet? What did you think? Do you think it’s a good end of an era movie?