This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie/series/feature being covered here wouldn't exist.
"Overall, Heart of Stone has made a good attempt to be a solid action-film, and if you are okay with long runtimes, two hours plus, this will be a good investment."
BY ROMEY NORTON AUGUST 15, 2023
Netflix has certainly tried to jump on the action bandwagon of the Mission: Impossible game with this spy thriller Heart of Stone. Both congratulations and commiserations are in order, as whilst this film is filled with action and adventure, it still falls short to be as impressive as the Mission: Impossible franchise.
Directed by Tom Harper, the film stars Gal Gadot, Alia Bhatt, and Jamie Dornan. Heart of Stone has been adapted from a screenplay by Greg Rucka and Allison Schroeder, and the story follows Rachel Stone (Gadot) a sexy geek, who goes on a mission to protect a MacGuffin called “the heart'' - an all-powerful cyber tool capable of hacking any network in the world, manipulating, sabotaging technology and could cause mass destruction. (sound familiar?) Rachel’s job is to keep the object safe from falling into the enemy’s hands.
Gal Gadot is able to bring the action, and has enough emotion to hold the long, dramatic pauses. One could argue that similar to the Mission Impossible franchise, audiences are watching for the stunts rather than an emotional storyline, so when moments aren’t necessarily believable and the suspense isn’t quite hitting the top, we can forgive it. With this in mind Heart of Stone does a fantastic attempt to wow the audience with its array of locations. There are high-speed car chases in the sunny setting of Libson, to parachuting in the snowy Alps. These are needed as sometimes the film's lines/one liners fall completely flat, making the script something to be desired.
Now, the rest of the acting was sub-par. At times it all seemed rather bland, and if you’re relying on action, fighting and impressive car chases, then you’ve really got to push the boat out otherwise the bad acting is cringingly clear. There are some compelling scenes between Gadot and Bhatt, but their character development is almost non-existent, so there isn’t much scope for real depth. Each character is subject to spy character tropes, including the cheesy lines.
The storyline is a mixed bag of things we’ve all seen before, and therefore predictable. The beginning for example is extremely similar to 007’s Casino Royale, where Rachel manipulates her way through a casino. Then there’s twists where our team have their own agendas, and have hidden secrets. Rachel, is a counteragent, a spy among spies, which you think would give another dimension to the film, but I was left with a lot of questions. One being if the script was written by an algorithm. Without the famous good-looking faces to front the film, would this even be worth making/watching?
Overall, Heart of Stone has made a good attempt to be a solid action-film, and if you are okay with long runtimes, two hours plus, this will be a good investment. Whilst I can imagine another one or two films in this series, I cannot see it being as successful as others. I fear this is an example of a film that’s so worried and intent on being a money-making franchise, it forgets to be a good movie.