‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ Review Roundup: ‘Bombastic’ but ‘Not Worthy of the Whip’

“Some relics are better left where and when they belong,” one critic writes

Harrison Ford in "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny"
Harrison Ford's latest star turn as "Indiana Jones" has boosted earlier movies in the franchise on streaming. (Lucasfilm)

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to a reportedly tepid reaction from the crowd — though first reactions on social media were more positive. Per usual for Cannes premieres it did receive ovations, but they were reserved for Harrison Ford himself rather than the James Mangold-directed film.

Since then the reviews have been pouring in, and they largely mirror how the audience at Cannes felt: A bit of a letdown, though some say it has its moments. But people still like Harrison Ford. 

In his review of “Indy’s” fifth and possibly final installment, David Rooney of the Hollywood Reporter wrote, “This is a big, bombastic movie that goes through the motions but never finds much joy in the process, despite John Williams’ hard-working score continuously pushing our nostalgia buttons and trying to convince us we’re on a wild ride … Both the actor and the audience get a raw deal with this empty exercise in brand redemption.”

Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair largely concurred in his review, writing, “‘Dial of Destiny’ certainly tries hard to do right by its pedigree. The basic component parts are there: an object quest rooted in history, a tingle of the supernatural, easily rooted-against fascist villains. But something in the calculations is off. To tinker with so cherished a fiction, one should have a very clear and good idea of how to do it. In Dial of Destiny,’ one can feel the four credited screenwriters grasping at inspiration and coming up short. What they did manage to make would be perfectly fine as a standalone adventure film starring some other character, but it’s not worthy of the whip.”

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman wrote in his review, “Mostly, ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ works by translating Indy’s old daredevil kick-ass fervor into the pure will with which he’s now hunting for the artifact. As the film leaps international locations, the action starts to feel more conventional and less ‘Indiana Jones’-y.”

TheWrap’s own Steve Pond had a more positive reaction to the film, writing in his review, “‘Dial of Destiny’ has an ace in the hole with Harrison Ford and with the character he plays – a guy for whom we feel so much affection that we’ll go along with all kinds of silliness if we can see a little more Indy. It really makes Indiana Jones our most endearing action hero, and Ford and Mangold clearly know that and know how to work with it.”

Similarly, Empire’s John Nugent enjoyed ‘Dial of Destiny,’ writing in his four-star review, “Indy’s final date with destiny has a barmy finale that might divide audiences — but if you join him for the ride, it feels like a fitting goodbye to cinema’s favorite grave-robber.”

Other critics, like IndieWire’s David Ehrlich, were not so kind, writing, “Not only is ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ an almost complete waste of time, it’s also a belabored reminder that some relics are better left where and when they belong. If only any previous entries in this series had taken great pains to point that out.”

Of course, Cannes audiences don’t always reflect popular tastes. We’ll see how it fares with crowds this summer. “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” opens in theaters June 30.