Screening at Cannes: Harrison Ford’s Final Ride As Indiana Jones

“I just saw my life flash before my eyes," Harrison Ford told the black-tie crowd at the 'Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny' premiere. "A great part of my life.”

Harrison Ford attends the “Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny” red carpet during the 76th annual Cannes film festival on May 18, 2023. Dominique Charriau/WireImage

“Too many Nazis,” mumbles an astonishingly de-aged Indiana Jones as he surreptitiously maneuvers through a trainful of Führer-bound soldiers, hunting down—what else?—yet another archeological artifact.

Cannes turned back time this week for the world premiere of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, James Mangold’s hired-gun addition to a movie universe that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas famously debuted with 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark (and subsequently steered through three increasingly wobbly blockbuster sequels).

The legendary filmmaking duo aren’t involved in this latest Disney (DIS)-mandated installment, which made sure to magically engineer that old Indy mouthfeel with an extended opening sequence set in 1944 that does a thrilling, if not completely convincing, job of reviving Indy at his most virile. All the better to shock viewers when 1969-era Dr. Jones pops up out of his La-Z-Boy slumber, sporting a surprisingly well-toned—but CGI-free—septuagenarian body.

The film festival used the fifth entry in the 42-year-old mega-franchise to fête its enduring action hero, double-fisted Harrison Ford, who turns 81 in July. Or, as festival director Thierry Frémaux would say: ’Arreson Faurd! “Your presence in world cinema has been very precious to us,” said Frémaux to a visibly moved Ford, who was invited onstage to receive an honorary Palme d’Or after a highlight reel of clips from movies like Blade Runner, Witness, and even the Anne Heche rom-com Six Days, Seven Nights.

“I’m very touched, I’m very moved,” he said to 2,300 effusive black-tie moviegoers. “I just saw my life flash before my eyes. A great part of my life.” The capacity crowd included wife Calista Flockhart, along with cast members Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, director Mangold, longtime Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and Disney CEO Bob Iger. “You’ve given my life purpose and meaning, and I’m so grateful for that,” he continued. “But I’ve got a movie you ought to see. It’s right behind me, so let me get out of the way.”

And so began Dial of Destiny, a solid, elegiac, bloated, and occasionally stultifying Indy adventure where every MacGuffin chase is just a bit too long, every character kidnapping is a bit too labored, and every death-defying encounter is a bit too preposterous. Fun isn’t the most accurate way to describe its excessive antics: there’s never a dull moment, but all the globe-trotting hullaballoo does verge on exhausting.

Get ready for the Lance of Longinus, Archimede’s Antikythera, a Polybius Square, and the Ear of Dionysius as our tomb raiders hopscotch from New York and Tangiers to Athens and Sicily. Stare in disbelief as Dr. Jones horseback rides down a subway tunnel, careens through a high-speed tuk-tuk chase, and fends off killer eels. “Just like snakes!” says one of Indy’s companions. “Not like snakes!” he snarls back. Is there a Forrest Gump moment when Indy has a run-in with yet another historical figure—this time, the Apollo 11 astronauts? Of course there is. And brace for a logic-bending, jump-the-shark climax which feels less like a derring-do Saturday matinee serial and more like an off-brand installment of the Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show.

Dial of Destiny does stick the landing by the film’s very end, with a touching, surprisingly romantic callback that gives Dr. Jones a well-deserved senior sunset full of quiet affection and enduring love. “I wanted to see a completion of the five films,” said Ford in a press conference the next day. “I wanted to round out the story. I wanted to see this man who had depended so much on the vigor of youth. I wanted to see the weight of life on him. And I cannot have been better served.”

One journalist couldn’t help but comment on his appearance onscreen in boxers and nothing else. “I think you’re still very hot,” she gushed.

“I’ve been blessed with this body,” he growled with a smile. “Thanks for noticing.”

Mikkelsen commented on Ford’s remarkable fitness and energy, especially for an 80-year-old man. “Our first all-night shoot, we wrapped at five in the morning,” he said. “We were all completely wasted, wanted to go to bed. Harrison picks up his bicycle and goes riding five kilometers!”

“Bullshit!” said Ford. “But very kind. There’s a partial truth in there.”

He’s happy to be a working actor, and mentioned how he’ll be back for a second season of both his current TV shows, 1923 and Shrinking. And he couldn’t care less if movie magic can keep him forever young. “I don’t look back and say, ‘I wish I was that guy again,’” he said. “Because I don’t. I’m real happy with age. I love being older. It was great to be young, but shitfire, I could be dead. And I’m still working. Go figure.”

Screening at Cannes: Harrison Ford’s Final Ride As Indiana Jones