Indiana Jones 5's first reviews are in, and they're not looking great

A de-aged Harrison Ford sits in a chair and stares at a bad guy off screen in Indiana Jones 5
(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a few weeks away from its June 30 theatrical release, but early reviews of the fifth and likely final film in the classic adventure franchise aren’t especially reassuring.

IndieWire comes for the jugular, calling it “An empty slog of a movie that only exists to smooth over any of the stray fan complaints that have splintered the franchise’s audience over the last 15 years, The Dial of Destiny is a globe-trotting adventure movie so safe that even its 80-year-old hero never seems to be in any significant danger.”

Variety calls it “dutifully eager but ultimately rather joyless piece of nostalgic hokum”, with non-stop action that chases after more modern action franchises such Fast & Furious, and loses some identity in the process: “As the film leaps international locations, the action starts to feel more conventional and less ‘Indiana Jones’-y.”

Some reviewers were a little kinder to the film, citing the power of nostalgia and a dose of suspended disbelief to paper over the cracks. At the very least, there’s a consensus that Dial of Destiny does it better than 2008’s maligned Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but some might say that's not a very high bar to clear…

The Times’ two-star review opens with the claim that “The good news is that it’s not as poor as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The bad news is that it’s not much better.”

Empire (which was positive on the film overall) writes that “Does it work, though — in a way that Crystal Skull’s climax didn’t? Sort of! It depends if you are willing to go with it.”

Deadline, meanwhile, argues that “However much action swirls on the surface of this kind of film, its foundations are built of reassuring nostalgia. Just hearing John Williams’ score, yet another variant on the heroics and theatrics of the original, makes anyone of a certain age feel that everything is momentarily right with the world.”

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny poster

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Harrison Ford himself escapes most of the criticism, with The Independent praising how Ford “never loses either his scowl or his doggedness. He plays even the flimsiest scenes with conviction and dry humour. His performance carries the movie.”

The Telegraph echoes this, writing that “Ford gives it his all – but while the three original films moved like page-turners, this fifth instalment is painfully short of spark.”

The good news is that, whether or not Indiana Jones 5 is worth a look, the first four films will be on Disney Plus from May 31, a good month before Indy 5’s release – so you can go back and remember the franchise in its heyday. In the past, we might've suggested that you stop after the first three, but maybe cracking through Crystal Skull as well will help Dial of Destiny to land better.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.