We’re nearing the end of a very long wait, kids – Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny hits theaters this week, promising a grand adventure and a dark take on our legendary hero. It’s not very Spielberg-ish if you ask me. However, Steven Spielberg did not direct the fifth installment in the long-running series. Instead, James Mangold, the acclaimed director of “Walk the Line” and “Logan” among others, took over directing.
We’re nearing the end of a very long wait, kids – Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny hits theaters this week, promising a grand adventure and a dark take on our iconic hero. It’s not very Spielberg-ish if you ask me. However, Steven Spielberg did not direct the fifth installment in the long-running series. Instead, James Mangold, the acclaimed director of “Walk the Line” and “Logan” among others, took over directing.
For those unfamiliar with Mangold’s work, I’ve compiled a list of James Mangold’s best films from his oeuvre that you should watch to become familiar with his style before heading to Dial of make Destiny.
Of all the movies on this list, “Logan” seems to be the perfect comparison to “Indy V” – at least based on the reviews I’ve read. Here we see Hugh Jackman’s Logan, aka Wolverine, approaching the final stages of his life. He still possesses the same fiery temper, but is also broken, angry, and distant from society – much like Indy at the beginning of Dial of Destiny. But adventure calls in the form of a young girl with mutant powers, and Logan must once again assume the role of Wolverine to protect her from a dangerous threat.
Mangold wraps Logan in a very R-rated mature tone, filled with gore, lots of F-bombs and plenty of adult themes. This is not your typical family comic book adaptation. Logan is dark, mean and often difficult to watch due to his brutality, but he is always a master of execution. It lasts a little longer than necessary and lays down quite thickly on the pathos. But at its core, this is a hopeful confrontation with a broken man seeking one last shot at redemption. Sound familiar?
Walk the Line (2005)
Mangold’s Walk the Line is a perfect biography. While other films based on legendary stars often get too involved in the superstardom, meticulously recreating moments from their lives without really examining their themes, Walk the Line strips Johnny Cash to the bone and allows us to… See the man behind the myth. Portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix (who sings all of Cash’s songs!), Cash is an ordinary man struggling with fame, fortune, love, drug addiction, the loss of his younger brother and his bossy father. By the end of the film, songs like “Ring of Fire” and “Walk the Line” carry more weight, as does our take on Cash and his eternal flame June Carter (Reese Witherspoon at her best).
Mangold handles the material well, not judging Cash and simply pointing a camera at his antics to give us a chance to follow in his footsteps. It’s a brilliant film and one of the best biographies ever made.
No, Indy doesn’t sing like Johnny Cash, but it seems like he’s in the same pain as our storied country star.
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Speaking of men struggling with glory, 3:10 to Yuma pits Russell Crowe’s superstar outlaw against Christian Bale’s hapless farmer, with delicious results. More action-adventure than a traditional western – did we need the Gatling guns? – this violent drama reveals the layers of both men and offers a glimpse into their psyches to see what drives them. When it’s time for Bale, a former Civil War veteran in search of a bounty and the respect of his dismissive son, to transport Crowe’s character onto a train and send him to prison, we both understand and respect both men equally . Think Michael Mann’s Heat, only fancier and with at least twice as many horses.
chard drives the death toll to absurd heights, especially in the third act sequence, but mixes the mayhem with quieter, intimate moments that work because the two leads are exceptional.
3:10 to Yuma may not be a classic genre entry, but it moves at a brisk pace and offers an enticing character study about two disillusioned men operating on opposite sides of the law.
Ford vs Ferrari (2019)
Ford vs Ferrari might boast exciting racing sequences and a clear fondness for cars, but make no mistake, this is a film about fathers and sons – it’s also one of the saddest films you will ever see.
Notice a pattern here? James Mangold makes films about broken men who come to terms with their bad life choices. They are still heroes and remarkably efficient at what they do, but they carry a lot of baggage and are often forced on a journey that will allow them to free themselves from their past regrets.
Does this work for Indy, a man who once carelessly rode into the sunset alongside his father and friends shortly after losing the newest love of his life? We will see.
Regardless, the approach works incredibly well for Ford versus Ferrari. Sure, speed is definitely required, but Mangold is more interested in the complex engines working under the hood, if you get my meaning. Thankfully, stars Christian Bale and Matt Damon take on the task of shaping their characters into more than caricatures of larger-than-life icons. For all their innovation and expertise, Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby are remarkably human, which means we feel their pain even more.
Cop Country (1997)
Speaking of heavy character dramas, you’d all do well to check out the great 1997’s Copland, in which Sylvester Stallone plays one of his finest performances as an elderly cop faced with a difficult choice: protect his adored officers or this Uphold the law and bring the truth to light. The film deals with the complex dynamics of power, morality and the consequences of characters’ choices.
Once again, Mangold delves into the psyche of his male protagonists, giving Stallone a chance to play against the type. Copland ventures into intriguing territory and serves as a solid exploration of the underbelly of law enforcement.
In other words, take a look at James Mangold’s films and you might be more inclined to accept his version of Indiana Jones.