HEART OF STONE (NETFLIX) (2023)
SYNOPSIS: Gal Gadot is Agent Rachel Stone, the only intelligence operative who stands between her global, peace-keeping organization and the loss of its most valuable — and dangerous — asset, codenamed: The Heart.
Is Skydance projecting itself to be a movie production company for espionage action thrillers? With their recent outputs including 6 Underground, Without Remorse, The Old Guard and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning just to name a few, the trend seems to say so. With the release of Heart of Stone on Netflix, let’s just say Skydance is definitely on a mission to conquer the genre.
Co-produced by and starring Gal Gadot as a female version of superspy Ethan Hunt. Her character is named Rachel Stone and she belongs to a shadowy global peacekeeping organisation called The Charter. The best part is the organisation is assisted by a powerful A.I. aka The Heart. And the movie opens with Stone infiltrating into MI6 as a lowly tech agent to assist fellow agents, Parker (Jamie Dornan), Yang (Jing Lusi) and Bailey (Paul Ready) in nabbing an arms dealer, Mulvaney currently located in a ski resort.
Does it matter why Stone needs to impersonate as a MI6 agent for a year to nab Mulvaney? What’s all that confusion over terms like Jack of Hearts, King of Clubs or King of Diamonds?
In the end, it doesn’t matter at all. Screenwriter Greg Rucka (The Old Guard) who started his career as a comic-book writer needs to first take some writing lessons from Christopher McQuarrie because Heart of Stone executes like a poor man version of McQuarrie’s Mission Impossible franchise. While the MacGuffin is established, the various characters are set, however the “heart” is missing.
The movie plods along from one mindless action set to another without much thought being given to the characters and development of the script. It’s all a flashy affair with all the outcomes entirely predictable apart from a small twist. There’s a hacker, Keya (Hindi actress Alia Bhatt) who wants to avenge the deaths of her parents and the ultimate villain whose craving for power and revenge is entirely bland and by-the-numbers. Even the MacGuffin in this case is just a mere A.I. tool for Matthias Schweighofer’s (Army of the Dead) tech character to play around with for most of the screentime.
That leaves Gal Gadot, the only and very reason why everyone wants to catch this flick. Similar to Dwyane Johnson, the Wonder Woman starlet possessed this strange power that despite the number of different movies she’s in, you can’t tell her apart every single time she is on the screen. That’s more of a compliment by the way, like it or not.
On the level of action extravaganzas, Heart of Stone is mostly on par with the James Bond and Mission Impossible outings with actual location shootings taking place in Portugal and Iceland instead of relying on greenscreen like say Ghosted. That said, Gadot of course is excellent as an action heroine, she just needs a stronger, more credible script to work her magic on.
Review by Linus Tee