The saying goes that you can never have too much of a good thing, and it seems like Disney are doing their damndest to test that theory.
Since they own pretty much every popular cinematic intellectual property in history, they can churn out sequels, prequels, remakes and spin-offs to their hearts content, safe in the knowledge that however much the internet might grumble about it, the ones doing the grumbling are a built-in audience.
So while plans for a fifth instalment of the Indiana Jones franchise might once have been dashed by the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the fourth entry in the series (yes, there was a fourth one, you’ve just blocked it from your memory), that’s no longer the case.
Yes, whether we like it or not, it appears we’ll be seeing everyone’s favourite adventuring whipcracking archaeologist on the big screens in 2022, with James Mangold (Logan, 3.10 To Yuma), directing, the legendary John Williams scoring, Harrison Ford shrugging on the leather jacket and Fedora again and featuring support from the wonderful Phoebe Waller-Bridge and the always entertaining Mads Mikkelsen.
With that line-up it should be a cause for celebration, but it feels like every press release announcing new stars avoids mentioning the elephant in the room… as good as he looks for his age, Harrison Ford is 78 years old and will be 80 by the time the film comes out.
Alright, sure, Indy’s age – or at least the wear and tear his body has experienced – has been a sort of running gag throughout the series, but the introduction of Shia LaBeouf’s character in *shudder* Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull as a young pretender to the throne ended up with a gag suggesting Ford would always be the one to wear the hat.
Nostalgia is a powerful drug, and whether we admit it or not, we’re all addicts. It’s easy to say ‘nobody but Harrison Ford can be Indiana Jones’, because he’s the hero we all grew up with. Even if the films haven’t always served him well (some people still dislike Temple Of Doom, apparently), he’s a North Star for a generation of film geeks.
But maybe it’s time to move on, recast and accept he’s given his best to the role?
Look at it another way – while opinions vary on the quality of A View To A Kill, Roger Moore’s swansong as James Bond is notorious for presenting the premier British spy as a man who looks like he’d struggle to get out of a chair on the first attempt. The great man said himself on many occasions that AVTAK was at least one Bond too many for him, and he was famously upset when he realised he was older than Bond girl Tanya Roberts’ mother.
Like Bond, the Indy franchise has a strong history of using stuntmen where it’s possible they might not be noticed – and in the case of the legendary Vic Armstrong, it’s often the same guy playing both roles – but they always work best when you can’t tell who’s who. If the fella doing the acting is noticeably approaching his eighties, then surely seeing ‘him’ swinging across a chasm on a bullwhip will be distracting?
And here’s one final thought while we’re on Bond – last week I wrote a Quick Read on the outcry from certain sections of the internet after a Black actor was mentioned in the same breath as the soon-to-be vacant 007 role, and I’ve heard it suggested that complaining about a septuagenarian Indy amounts to pretty much the same thing – a borderline bigoted viewpoint, rallying against change.
I’d argue otherwise – the colour of James Bond’s skin doesn’t matter if you believe in the performance, but if you’re fronting up an action extravaganza with a man who’s pushing 80, you know he’s simply not going to be able to cope with the physical challenges you’re watching the character face.
Of course suspension of disbelief is a requirement when you’re watching a film about powerful religious artefacts or *shudder* inter-dimensional beings, but you shouldn’t have to overcome doubt about your leading man being able to tackle a staircase, should you?
Anyway, like everyone else grumbling about it, I’m sure I’ll be buying a ticket – what about you?