Tom Jolliffe on why another delay for Indiana Jones 5 should spell the end of the character…
I love Indiana Jones. I love Harrison Ford. Both character and actor are absolutely iconic in cinema. Ford has had the distinct pleasure and star power to be both Jones and Han Solo, as well as star in Blade Runner. Who else has come close to attaining that level of iconography? Nobody. He’s legendary.
The original trilogy of Indiana Jones is as exceptional a threesome of blockbuster films as you’re likely to ever get (ironically along with the original Star Wars trilogy). After The Last Crusade came out it would be 19 years until the long awaited fourth in the franchise, The Crystal Skull. From CG gophers to nuking the fridge, to CG monkeys and the grating presence of Shia LeBeouf, it was atrocious.
Do you remember when the fourth film was finally shooting? After all those years, it was happening. Here’s the thing…we all thought it back in 2008…’Harrison Ford is a little long in the tooth for this.’ Still, seeing Ford back with his hat, his whip and the rest was pleasing in some ways (at least, until the film descends into it’s woeful alie finale). Plus he was still certainly game with performing a lot of his own stunts. Indy was slower, but as fallible as ever and still likeable. The goal was seemingly to see a transition that could see Indy pass the torch to his newly discovered son (Shia). So that didn’t work out as a pass the torch thing, particularly as Le Beouf’s post Indy shenanigans and the fan backlash toward him in this franchise, all but ended any chance of a Mutt Jones film continuation (thankfully). Then in the intervening years we’ve been hearing about Indiana Jones 5. Like, relentlessly.
More recently things took a turn when news was announced that James Mangold would be taking over the directorial duties. That in itself is promising, and it seemed we were finally getting close to a shoot. Then…yeah…the world got shut down by recent events. Hollywood included. Now we see another push back for a project that has already taken way too long to come about. So we’re looking at another delay and by the time the film is released, Harrison Ford will be 80… Indiana Jones… 80…
Really and truly, this is done for. Who still wants to see it? There’s only two things you can do with an Indiana Jones film which conforms to the action/adventure caper formula the originals perfected. You can have Indiana pass the torch again to a younger co-star, or you can reboot it and recast the role. Now I could write 10000 words on why both the ideas are awful, and why people would hate both approaches, but that’s all you can really do with bringing Ford back at 80. What else would they do? Would we see an existential old man in crisis type of film? Or something like Bubba Ho-Tep where Jones, in an old folks home gets drawn into a last adventure? People won’t accept a formula change, nor would the studio be brave enough.
James Mangold is great. Harrison Ford has at least shown too, in Blade Runner 2049 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that he can actually raise his game again after years of half-assing what he’s appeared in. Of course Ford will be up for playing Indy and will undoubtedly be on the ball, but… but… he’s just too old. Nobody wants to see Jones with a zimmer frame. We don’t want to see him become a side joke. Jones shouldn’t become like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator in the last two films. A walking joke, a constant stream of ironic OAP reference.
The moment has gone. The time to do this was before the last one. The Crystal Skull was too late, 12 years ago. Pushing this back again is a mix of tragic and pointless because in the end, it’s destined to underwhelm at the box office. People just aren’t going to buy into an octogenarian Indiana Jones. Aside from anything, recent events need to make Hollywood re-evaluate and carefully consider their huge event movies. The movies that cost more than $100 million. Too many of these are misfiring flops, desperate in capturing old magic or mimicking recent Marvel success. Sometimes though, a moment is long gone. Plus, we’ve seen, the fragility of conventional life in general. Months of big budget films ahead, already pushed further back, which in turn will push back more films to keep future weekends from being over-clogged with tentpoles.
With Star Wars interest waning, and so many other reboots/sequels suffering disappointing returns, audiences are increasingly drawn to more modern things and some of the low-mid budget films which are now slowly increasing in popularity. Indiana Jones has had his day. They would probably be better off having a little re-release run on the original trilogy again because apart from anything, they’ll never be bettered by a 5th sequel, and feature Ford in his prime…to put it into context too, he was almost 40 when the first film came out…in 1981. A near middle aged hero in a near 40 year old film. Time to hang up the whip and the hat.
Do you want to see Indiana Jones 5? Let us know in the comments below or on our twitter page @FlickeringMyth…
Tom Jolliffe is an award winning screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has a number of films out on DVD/VOD around the world and several releases due in 2020, including The Witches Of Amityville Academy (starring Emmy winner, Kira Reed Lorsch) and Tooth Fairy: The Root of Evil. Find more info at the best personal site you’ll ever see…https://www.instagram.com/jolliffeproductions/