The man with a fedora and whip has discovered the Ark of the Covenant, freed children from a religious cult, fought countless Nazis, and even dabbled with multi-dimensional aliens. Yes, no one has quite had adventures like Indiana Jones.
More than 40 years since Harrison Ford's debut as the beloved archaeologist, the Hollywood star returned one final time to say farewell to the character in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. That movie arrives on Disney Plus on December 1, 2023, to complete the full Indiana Jones collection and provide the perfect excuse to watch all of his escapades over the holidays.
Made up of many highs and certainly some lows over the years, there's still plenty to admire about George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's creation. Whether it's scrabbling away from a giant boulder or falling out of a plane on an inflatable raft, the movies are full of memorable moments. So with that, what better time to discuss which one of these adventures tops the lot – especially if you don't have time to watch them all.
Some of the Indiana Jones movies rank among the best Disney Plus movies, and some… not so much. So here's every Indiana Jones movie ranked from weakest to best.
5. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Racing against time and the Nazis to retrieve a legendary dial, the fifth and final outing in the Indiana Jones saga is a disappointing CGI-heavy mess despite the steady hand of new director James Mangold. With a lot of promise and a still- compelling performance from 80-year-old Harrison Ford, Dial of Destiny takes too much of the joy out of adventuring.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who usually turns everything she touches to gold, is completely unlikable as Indy's money-driven goddaughter, Helena Shaw, alongside a forgettable villain from Mads Mikkelsen – something I never thought was possible. The action is so past the point of believability that it's hard to feel like there are any real stakes, only further adding to the prognosis that the character should have been left in the '80s.
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
A relatively sprightly 65-year-old Harrison Ford returned after 19 years away to go up against the Soviets, led by Cate Blanchett's military scientist, Dr Irina Spalko. In a slightly more refined script, she could be up there with the best villains in the series – and this is true of lots of this movie. Take aside the ludicrous idea of surviving a nuclear explosion in a fridge and the god-awful jungle CGI that sees Shia LaBeouf swinging through the trees like a monkey (I get that's a big ask), and it's full of enjoyable elements.
Ford is on fine form throughout. The dynamic between him and LaBeouf is pretty damn good, especially with how it changes over the course of the movie. Some of the stunts are still fantastic to this day. John Williams' score is superb. The choice of scorpions and giant ants is wonderfully fitting to this world. And the supporting cast doesn't miss: Karen Allen, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent and Ray Winstone all deliver. Mutt is a controversial figure yet encapsulates the heart of what made the Indy character so loveable. Above all else, it still has the spirit of an Indiana Jones movie woven throughout, which Dial of Destiny lost sight of. We also got a better ending too.
3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Set prior to the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom received a mixed response on release. Since then, fans and critics have been much kinder appreciating its darker tone, inventive action sequences, and humor spearheaded by the wonderful Short Round (played by Ke Huy Quan, who is deservedly enjoying a renaissance as of late, including in Loki season 2). On top of this, we have a terrifying performance by wonderful Indian actor Amrish Puri as Mola Ram – arguably, the best villain in the whole series.
Sure, some of the story elements of a white savior coming to the aid of desperate villagers who worship a mystical stone, and the racist stereotypes that come with this, haven't aged perfectly – but Indy's character development helps to partially counterweight this. We haven't even mentioned the mine cart chase, the bridge standoff, and the Bond-like opening sequence. Temple of Doom is pure fun whether you're a kid or an adult.
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
The one that started it all. Raiders of the Lost Ark is continuously named among many of the greatest films of all time, and it's one hell of a movie. As an Indiana Jones film, though, I think one other does it slightly better, but we'll come back to that. What Raiders achieves is a thrilling adventure to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis in a 115-minute runtime that never lets up.
So many iconic Indy scenes happen here: boulder, bar brawl, plane fight, Indy shooting the guy brandishing a scimitar, and of course, the melting faces at its climax. It's got swashbuckling, it's got romance, it's got people getting one over on the Nazis… what more should a movie offer?
Everyone involved is firing on all cylinders both in front and behind the camera; no one better than Ford taking up the leading man status and taking it to new levels. Throw in the best secondary lead of the series in Marion Ravenwood as well as an ensemble of creepy villains, and this movie is why Indiana Jones would be loved to this day even they'd stopped at one.
1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Pairing up Indiana Jones with James Bond himself in Sean Connery remains one of the best on-screen partnerships in all of filmdom. What I adore about The Last Crusade is that you give a damn about every person along for the ride – Indy, Henry, Marcus and Sallah make for a wonderful semi-capable ensemble trying to spoil the Nazi's pursuit of the Holy Grail. The dynamics between all cast members are sublime, with a father-son relationship at the heart of it, creating some real heartfelt moments thanks to the acting power of two Hollywood heavyweights.
Every action scene is something special, from the opening train chase to the tank battle that puts Indy threw the wringer. Each one showcases all the different sides of Indy that make the character so damn likeable. How I'd kill to see stunt work like any of this in a modern film. Travelling from Venice to Istanbul and finally to the gorgeous Petra for an unforgettable – and downright chilling – final showdown, we then get to gloriously see the group ride off into the sunset on horseback. Perfection.