Like Indiana Jones’s dusty fedora, this long-aborning fourth chapter of the series about the archaeologist-adventurer is familiar and comfy but lacks snap. Set in 1957, Skull finds Jones (Ford) 19 years older than we last saw him. Though he can still flick a whip with deadly verve, he’s now a tad surprised when he outruns, jumps or punches the bad guys. Make that bad gal, as in a Russian military scientist (Blanchett, using an accent worthy of Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Natasha) who thinks Indy can lead her to an ancient crystal skull in South America with possible supernatural powers. Soon Jones, accompanied by a new sidekick (LaBeouf) and an old flame (Karen Allen), is chasing through the Amazon jungle, tumbling over waterfalls, dodging bullets, uncovering a secret tomb and more.
Director Steven Spielberg and his capable cast try a little too hard to recapture old times, and the effort shows. If you came to Skull cold, minus nearly three decades of fondness for Indy (and that stirring theme music), would the sight of him give you such a warm, fuzzy feeling? Unlikely. Still, if you’ve been jonesing for Jones, it’s swell just to have him back.