Another Indiana Jones film was always inevitable, as is the way with any decent intellectual property these days. But few franchise revivals sound as irresistible as Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, which promised a proper send-off for cinema’s iconic archaeologist and a palette cleanser after the abhorrent Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – and, as a bonus, is directed by James Mangold.

Opening with a prologue in 1944 (and some iffy de-ageing), Indy (Harrison Ford) evades capture from the Third Reich and discovers half of the Dial of Destiny – an artifact created by Archimedes that lets its user manipulate the space-time continuum. Cut to 1969: America is celebrating the moon landing, and Indy is begrudgingly lecturing disinterested archaeology students and mulling over his retirement party with a sense of reluctance. Dr Jones has seen better days. But he’s quickly pulled back into his old ways when a scientist from his past, Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen), sets out to retrieve the Dial and use it to change the outcome of World War II. Indy teams up with his god-child Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) for a globe-trotting easter egg hunt to find the other half of the dial before Voller does.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Harrison Ford as Helena and Indy in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Courtesy of LucasFilm

So the game is afoot and The Dial of Destiny is constructed with the usual gimmicks and MacGuffin-chasing of an Indy film. It may be the first one without Steven Spielberg at the helm, but Mangold’s direction is nonetheless zippy. An early car chase through Tangier is easily the highlight; it’s a tightly orchestrated set-piece and Mangold’s use of space and momentum is excellent in cultivating genuine excitement throughout. That being said, it’s more of the same for Indiana Jones and it’s starting to get tiresome. We’ve seen this movie before – and done better.

Spielberg’s trilogy was pulled off with such craftsmanship; there was a genuine sense of bravado to the stories, stunts and the cocksure attitude of Indy with his wisecracking wit and charm. For a film that’s about chasing hollow replicas, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from its counterparts – an exacerbated attempt to rekindle the magic from over three decades ago. It’s the same antics but not as deftly woven: Ford gives the mawkish writing his very best; Waller-Bridge is just doing Fleabag; the plot is lazy; the one-liners are cringe-worthy; the action is mostly uninteresting; the emotion is lacking. The film is also tonally all over the place, struggling to strike a balance between the camp of the 80s and seriousness about the stakes. There’s a third act reveal that should be funny and silly but is played way too po-faced for what it is. The film never rises above the sum of its parts.

Mads Mikkelsen in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Courtesy of LucasFilm

That’s perhaps the best summation of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny: a film that doesn’t quite understand what made these whip-smart adventures such a success in the first place. It plays like a greatest hits remix, recycling classic moments and ideas from the Indy playbook but more as a haphazard attempt at cashing in on nostalgia than the meaningful swan song for one of cinema’s icons it should be. It admittedly has its moments and there’s enough goodwill in the IP that this will probably be able to coast on the coattails of its predecessors just enough for most fans. But if this is indeed really it for Indiana Jones, then what a loss.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny releases in cinemas from June 28th.