An intelligence operative for a shadowy global peacekeeping agency races to stop a hacker from stealing its most valuable and dangerous weapon.

Chuck says:

What with “The Gray Man,” “Extraction,” and “Red Notice” franchises, Netflix is making a name for itself as the go-to source for solid action fare. Tom Harper’s “Heart of Stone” seems destined to be added to the streamer’s stable of franchises as the director delivers a solid, if not overly original, espionage thriller that’s never less than thrilling or fun. Credit star Gal Gadot for bringing a convincing physicality to the role of superspy Rachel Stone which helps add a sense of realism to the many hand-to-hand fights and numerous chase scenes she’s required to anchor.

The film gets off to a rousing start as Stone and her MI:6 team – Parker (Jamie Dornan), Yang (Jing Lusi) and Bailey (Paul Ready) – infiltrate an Italian stronghold in the Alps where they plan to take out a nefarious (is there any other kind?) arms dealer. Of course, it all goes sideways and before the first 20 minutes have played out, we’ve been treated to a crackerjack fight sequence, a tense downhill race replete with SUVs, snow-cycles and a parachuting Stone, finishing off with a slick shoot out. It’s an impressive start.

Screenwriters Greg Rucka and Allison Schroeder aren’t content to go through the motions, their story containing one surprise after another. That being said, I’m not giving too much away by revealing Stone belongs to a clandestine agency known as The Charter, an international group of rogue agents who have taken it upon themselves to do the jobs their governments have prevented them from doing. At their disposal is a massive A.I. computer that has access to every bit of information in the world.  (Who’s bankrolling this operation is never explained and falls under the category of questions you’re not supposed to ask.) Of course, whoever has this system has control of everything, so it comes as no surprise that much of the film deals with a group of terrorists trying to get ahold of it.

If you’re experiencing a bit of déjà vu, then you’ve likely seen “Mission impossible: Dead Reckoning”.  All action films suffer from the “been there, done that” syndrome, so the only thing that elevates one over another is how well the action scenes are executed.  The set pieces here are, on the whole, well done, thrills and a bit of humor evident whether our heroine is careening down the streets of Lisbon or freefalling from a low-flying satellite. And Gadot sells it, never self-conscious in executing her feats of daring-do, a wry smile evident throughout. Her charisma is the actor’s superpower and helps make “Stone” a solid first entry in what I hope will be an ongoing series.

3 Stars

Pam says:

If you’ve seen one action thriller, you’ve seen them all, right? Well, in the case of the new Netflix film “Heart of Stone” starring Gal Gadot, that’s absolutely correct. Gadot is Rachel Stone, an intelligence operative infiltrated into MI-6 to find the team responsible for hacking a global control server affectionately called “The Heart.”   

 Her team isn’t who she thought it was and, well, she isn’t who they thought she was either. It’s a story of double-crossing within a cat-and-mouse game that’s filled with non-stop action, a convoluted story and flat performances that will drive you to see “Mission Impossible” again and again. 

 The first 20 minutes are filled with jaw-dropping stunts as Rachel, an IT expert who, according to her team, has no field experience. As luck would have it, she must “leave the van” and get inside a remote and highly protected venue in order to find and capture their target.   

Her skills in the field are like no other as she battles countless men dressed in black and parachutes with the utmost control to another location where a lot more action takes place. This action — so repetitive — becomes monotonous even though the scenery and stunts are quite spectacular. Yes, you can have too much of a good thing and this is case and point to such. 

As Rachel’s identity is revealed, we are more entrenched in her background as a new character, Keya Dhawan (Alia Byatt) is introduced. It becomes a battle of the wills as these two women figure out whether or not to fight or band together. 

There’s nothing new here to see. “Heart of Stone” utilizes the typical object of everyone’s desire, in this case it’s an IT satellite server which can hack into anything and everything allowing the controller to rule the world.   

It’s “the thing” that everyone wants and can destroy everything as well. The players in this game are stereotypical with Jamie Dornan as Parker and Paul Ready as Bailey, and a handful of goons constantly at the ready.    

 With a script top heavy with action, it doesn’t leave much room for dialogue, humor, drama and, dare I say, heart.   

 Gadot’s physicality for the role is impressive and perhaps she and Tom Cruise should partner for the next “Mission Impossible,” but even she can’t find the right notes for delivery. Dornan, masking his Irish lilt, is able to become a manipulative and intimidating character beneath that handsome face, but alas, it’s a one-dimensional performance.   

Byatt as Dhawan comes into the story much too late as she could have been the saving grace if not for a lackluster script.   

 “Heart of Stone” is spectacularly monotonous as an action thriller. Whether green-screened or actual stunts, these are impressive, but they do not make a movie. We need characters with whom we connect and a story that captures us. This story is so convoluted that it just adds to the monotony. 


1 ½ stars 

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