A self-conscious effort to build a spy franchise around Gal Gadot, “Heart of Stone” plays like a poor woman’s “Mission: Impossible,” mostly thwarting even its star’s Wonder-ful charisma. Despite solid action moments scattered over its two hours, this Netflix movie plays like an inoffensive but lifeless addition to the “You might like” feature that, alas, you probably won’t.
Almost like a Mad magazine riff on the “Spy v. Spy” comic strip, the semi-intriguing premise casts Gadot as Rachel Stone, introduced as a “baby agent” at Britain’s MI6 whose job is to sit in the van and provide intel to the hardened field operatives. As it turns out, though, Stone is really a lethal operative for a shadowy group known as the Charter, a spy network that’s merely a legend among her MI6 colleagues, working to overcome threats using a high-tech AI known as the Heart.
Identified only by playing-card names (Jack of Hearts, etc.), Stone’s Charter contacts include her imperious boss (Sophie Okonedo) and a skilled tech maestro (“Army of Thieves’” Matthias Schweighöfer) who feeds information into her ear, instantly factoring probabilities on a device that exists somewhere between “Minority Report” and the CBS series “Person of Interest.”
Netflix stock actor Matthias Schweighöfer plays “Jack of Hearts,” Rachel’s tech aid, who is always plugged into a supercomputer known as The Heart, which allows him to use surveillance data to aid her in her missions. This data visualizes in front of him, which he manipulates with his hands. This was pretty cool … when Tom Cruise’s character did it in “Minority Report.” Here it plays like a shallow, artless copy.
The Charter’s mission is explained multiple times through exposition-laden dialogue. In fact, most characters speak in exposition, try-hard quips, or melodramatic monologues. Actors Paul Ready and Jing Lusi, as Stone’s teammates Bailey and Yang do wonders with their terribly written parts but are not given nearly enough screen time to truly craft fully realized characters.
Jamie Dornan plays teammate Parker like a toned-down version of Colin Farrell in “Daredevil,” which is a shame because his twisty role really should be played at the highest possible decibel. The same goes for Alia Bhatt as hacker Keya, who can never transcend the character’s many cliches. Only model-turned-actor Jon Kortajarena, a bleached blond baddie in a popped-collar leisure suit, seems to understand what this kind of villainous role requires.
In addition, there are lots of explosions and action sequences in Heart of Stone, as well as a pinwheeling car chase, though none of that should come as a surprise. (The director is Tom Harper, who made the lovely 2018 film Wild Rose, starring Jessie Buckley. The script is by Greg Rucka and Allison Schroeder.) The movie’s plot is negligible, seemingly stitched from vague bits and bobs of various Mission: Impossible movies—unsurprising because like those pictures, it’s a product of Skydance Media, and quite clearly intended to be the beginning of a franchise. But Heart of Stone is quite glossy and beautiful to look at, and though there’s not much that’s dynamic about her, Gadot at least has a charming insouciance. Even if you’ll be hard-pressed to remember any of it three hours later, the runtime of Heart of Stone flies by quickly enough. But not nearly as fast as Gadot’s character in her flying-squirrel onesie.
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