Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) Review

Better Than Expected


Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a fun ride with the famed archeologist/adventurer still managing to entertain despite his advancing years. The question is do you really want to see him as a broken old man or would you rather remember him in his prime? That I’ll leave up to you…

Plot: Daredevil archaeologist Indiana Jones races against time to retrieve a legendary dial that can change the course of history. Accompanied by his goddaughter, he soon finds himself squaring off against Jürgen Voller, a former Nazi who works for NASA.

Review: Indiana Jones is my all-time favourite movie character alongside James Bond; I have all the movies and novels, so I can never get enough of the iconic adventurer. However, even I was skeptical when I heard we were getting a fifth entry to the franchise with little to no involvement from Lucas or Spielberg and the star Harrison Ford recently turned 80 years old.

I didn’t love Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and I’ve only ever watched it twice, so in my mind the franchise ended with The Last Crusade with our hero riding off into the sunset which was a perfect swan song for the character; anything that came after that could be considered fan fiction.

Directed by James Mangold (Logan) reviews have been mixed for this final entry in the franchise entitled The Dial of Destiny and there were all kinds of ridiculous rumours from Youtubers swirling around about what happened in the film. Despite all of the negativity I’ve held out hope that the film will just be a fun escape from reality for a few hours with our whip cracking adventurer doing what he does best and that’s exactly what it is.

This is a vast improvement over Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and is surprisingly more grounded with its action until the utterly gonzo finale which some will either love or hate; I personally loved it however, Indy makes a decision that I know many fans will dislike.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge plays Indy’s goddaughter Helena and once again there were early reports that she would be taking over the mantle from Indy by the end but I can assure you that is not the case. She is a bit of a know-it-all and will irk some but she is nowhere near as annoying as expected.

James Mangold is a solid director and his talent is never in question here but Indy V definitely lacks that Spielberg magic with little visually that sticks with you. The script is also rather forgettable although there are a few entertaining one-liners. It is a bit too serious and at times feels more like a modern blockbuster rather than an old-fashioned serial but it still manages to entertain. Harrison Ford slips back into the fedora with ease and it’s hard not feel the swell of nostalgia seeing him on screen again with John William’s triumphant score behind him. Even at 80 years old he still has what it takes to be magnetic on screen and remains one of the all-time great movie stars.

The first 25 minutes is arguably the highlight for me and I would have given the film 4 stars for that alone as it felt like classic Indy; the de-aged Harrison Ford is a little janky at times but for the most part it’s exceptionally well done making for one of the best opening sequences of the franchise.

The trailers made the film look like it was going to be full of CGI and there is more than I would like but the visuals are mostly impressive.

Is this film necessary? No, and I’m not sure I like seeing Indy as a creaky old man as with James Bond the character was always more about audience wish fulfilment where our hero goes on adventures, stops the bad guys and gets the girl. Do we really want to see him shouting at his neighbours because their music is too loud?

There is something about the action that doesn’t really stand out as well where we don’t really see anything that feels fresh; Raiders had some great fight scenes but there’s nothing here that even comes close.

Mads Mikkelsen makes every movie better by merely walking on screen and he does the best he can with his character Jürgen Voller who is an ex-Nazi now working for the CIA. He has a few decent lines and his icy cool demeanor is perfect for the role. I like Boyd Holbrook as well as the vicious henchman but the fact I had to look up what the character’s name is on IMDb should say it all.

Antonio Banderas has a small and rather thankless role but like Mads he just improves any movie by being there; it’s also nice to see John Rhys-Davies return as Sallah.

There were a couple of genuinely moving moments which I wasn’t expecting giving some of the most heartfelt scenes of the franchise which was a pleasant surprise.

Overall, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny feels unnecessary as The Last Crusade ended things perfectly however, this is still an entertaining finale for the character with some enjoyable set-pieces and the highlight being the first 25 minutes which is classic Indy. Whether audiences are still interested in this character has yet to be seen but I’ll happily watch this again in the coming years.