Indiana Jones 5 news continues to drip out, seemingly pulling the film back from the abyss of “that thing everybody talked about that never quite came together.” Like a third Ghostbusters film with the entire original cast or one of the 113 Fletch reboots (FREE SUDEIKIS!). This action-adventure movie with a 77-year-old at its center may actually happen. (Just not with Steven Spielberg at the helm, apparently.) But is that… good? I’m here to make the case in the affirmative with a few stray thoughts on why hope and Indiana Jones can go on this adventure to erase our memory of Mutt Williams together.
The installation of James Mangold as director is, as of now, a rumor, but it’s an exciting one to ponder. In part because Mangold has, in the past, done the aging hero/one last ride thing before with Logan. This in addition to an interesting resume filled with grounded character-driven films like Cop Land, Girl Interrupted, Walk The Line, and the Oscar-nominated Ford V Ferrari. makes the mind spin and spark with thoughts on what he’d want to do with Indiana Jones and all the mythology surrounding him. Though, it is interesting that the weakest link in his filmography is the attempted fun-spectacle of Knight And Day, but I digress. The man is talented and he’d be a huge get.
The point here isn’t to pin all hopes to Mangold, though. It’s to ponder, with respect, the amazing thing that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg created (with help along the way) and how that’s now something that is probably better off in the hands of people who have some distance from all that structural work and past success. Because preciousness is toxic. And, according to the Variety report on Spielberg’s exit from the director’s chair (while staying on as a producer), he gets that.
If Indiana Jones can move forward with Lucas and Spielberg in more advisory-type Godfather roles, it can be helped by someone who can put their own spin on this thing and maybe put it in a place where it can keep going after Indy 5. Because Harrison Ford is going to live forever. Or, because the franchise is a valuable asset to Disney and a handoff to a younger star (what was seemingly attempted with Shia Labeouf in Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull) might still be an option if done with utmost skill and delicacy. Maybe its Mangold making those calls, maybe it’s someone in JJ Abrams mode or Rian Johnson mode (Star Wars reference) — regardless, it opens up some possibilities that, with Spielberg at the helm (master that he is), may not have been as likely.
Reading The Room
Ford certainly talked a good game when he sat down with HeyUGuys during a junket interview for The Call Of The Wild, saying, “I don’t really want to give them [the audience] what they want to see, I want to give them something they didn’t anticipate.” This before adding, “They are used to a degree of disappointment when you revisit” and comments about how Marvel has “killed it” with what they’ve done. All of this indicates that Harrison Ford totally listened to your podcast and he knows how you feel about Crystal Skull. He wants you back. Go to him.
It also indicates that Ford can read the room and he knows the expectation game and that this is one more chance to define the legacy of this character and get it right. It’s also, to be honest, an indication that a fella nearing 80 with gobs of money and things to do probably doesn’t want to waste time on hollow fan service or do something just to have a reunion with his pals. This isn’t Adam Sandler searching for a reason to go kick it in Belize with David Spade for a Grown Ups prequel. Ford was a carpenter. He’s a pilot. GTFO if you’re not bringing fire. Or a cool CG dog who is a very good boy.
Speaking of CG, I’m a little curious and intrigued by its possible role in this film. As we’ve seen with the Marvel film flashbacks and The Irishman, the story here doesn’t have to be exclusively about old Indy. It might be able to at least touch on things from the past if the budget and willingness to inject evolving technologies get turned up to 11. That may sound like sacrilege to some and it is a tricky question in general, but if it’s Ford signing off on it, then it might be cool. If nothing else, we’d get to see him try to better the awkward old man run of Sam Jackson in Captain Marvel or the old man kick of De Niro in The Irishman. Doesn’t that sound fun?
It’s Indiana Jones
The most important reason to be hopeful about the next Indiana Jones movie is that it will be an Indiana Jones movie and Harrison Ford will crack whips and quips and kiss lips and I just got really into rhymes. Crystal Skull, for all of its failings (some directly connected to the previously mentioned preciousness) also clears the bar of actually being an Indiana Jones movie and delivering on the charm and allure of that. And also Karen Allen was back! You can’t top Karen Allen. Will Karen Allen be in this film? We don’t know, but even if she’s not (she better be) this is still gonna be cool and transportive to a time of wide-eyed acceptance of a hero 30 feet high. That’s some pretty potent stuff. You really can’t screw it up, though maybe we shouldn’t make that dare and just hope for the best here.