On August 11, Netflix released the spy action film Heart of Stone starring Wonder Woman Gal Gadot. The film was supposed to be something like a female version of “Mission: Impossible” or the films about Agent 007 and was created with an eye to the new franchise. In the review below we will examine whether this project is able to cope with its own, very modest ambitions.
Pros: promising exposition, several more or less normal action scenes (in particular, chases), Icelandic truck driver Cons: absolutely clichéd script, frankly weak fight scenes, lack of live characters, replaced by bobbleheads with a set of functions, high ambitions on paper and failure on all fronts in practice
Heart of Stone
Genre spy action
Director Tom Harper
Starring: Gal Gadot, Jamie Dornan, Matthias Schweighöfer, Archie Madekwe, Alia Bhatt
Year of release 2023
A squad of MI6 operatives is conducting another mission somewhere in the snowy Italian Alps. Everything goes a little wrong, and the agent responsible for technical support, Rachel Stone, is forced to go out into the field. The baptism of fire goes quite well, but at the final stage of the mission, an unexpected event for its participants occurs again.
After returning to London, the team receives nuts from the management, and also a new task – to fill out paperwork. That evening, the Fantastic Four head to a nearby pub for a beer (although Rachel drinks something obviously non-alcoholic, since she’s the perfect lead for a Netflix movie). And over time, the unlucky spies head to Lisbon, where they must get on the trail of the mysterious hacker Keya, who seems to be up to something wicked.
All this is overseen by an international secret organization called the Charter, which has its own field agent involved in the case, and also has a super cool artificial intelligence called “Heart”. With its help you can control everything in the world, and an experienced viewer can already guess that this little thing risks falling into the wrong hands.
“Heart of Stone” without further ado plunges you into dynamic spy adventures, where there is room for spectacular action scenes and even unexpected twists.
Therefore, the first impression of the tape is not that strong, but at least pleasant. The film really takes its cue from older and successful colleagues in the genre and tries to look decent against their background.
But after the Lisbon mission reaches its climax, the film will finally turn into an average action movie with tired genre clichés. Even in London it will rain as always. Watching what you have seen and seen dozens of times is not only uninteresting, but rather sad – there can be no question of any reputational identification with franchises on the level of Bond or Mission Impossible.
The spy passions here look ridiculous, the villain is terribly caricatured. Looking at the secondary and much less well-demonstrated stunts, somewhere in the world one Tom Cruise probably vomited.
But Heart of Stone’s biggest problem is that it’s a completely boring and bland brew of typical genre tropes. The cinema only pretends to be a powerful, ambitious project capable of surprising the viewer, but in reality it surprises only with its own helplessness.
The fight scenes are not memorable at all, and the chase through the narrow streets of Lisbon only makes it clear that Gal Gadot’s heroine is truly a wonder woman.
The best moment of the two hours is the chase in cold Iceland. But not because the authors offer something amazingly spectacular; it’s just here that, for a very brief period, the film allows itself to become less serious and a little more ironic.
Perhaps if director Tom Harper and screenwriters Greg Rucka and Alison Schroeder had executed the entire film in this tone, the result would have been completely different. Instead there is pathos, serious expressions and apparently pipe dreams of the spy movie’s big leagues.
After watching, you get the strong impression that the script was written by artificial intelligence. Automatically following the cliché path of least resistance leads to ideological poverty of the plot, and this is very annoying.
It should also be noted about the absence of at least one living character in the frame. In the space inside the film, complete dummies of functions, completely devoid of individual features, fuss uselessly.
“Heart of Stone” in some ways looks like a loser even compared to such nonsense as “Mother” from the same Netflix. The film with Jennifer Lopez frankly did not pretend to be anything more than a one-time, unpretentious action film from the 90s.
Here we have a full-fledged blockbuster with high stakes and an eye on a new franchise, which means that the creators sought to release a serious player in the field of spy cinema. But there is every reason to believe that this mission will definitely be impossible.
“Heart of Stone” makes us remember Gal Gadot’s unexpected appearance in the tenth Fast and the Furious, when righteous bewilderment arises, followed by the question: “Girl, what are you doing here?” In a bad sense, the film turns out to be a standard sterile action movie, once again spewed onto the viewer by the merciless Netflix conveyor belt