Gal Gadot plays secret agent Rachel Stone in Netflix’s Heart Of Stone – here’s our review of the action thriller…
The first thing we learn about Gal Gadot’s secret agent Rachel Stone is that cats don’t like her. If you’re an animal-loving person, you may have learned by now that that usually isn’t a good sign. That’s the case with Gadot’s protagonist and Netflix’s Heart Of Stone in general, which aspires to be a Mission Impossible-esque action thriller, but with remarkably less character development and a more CGI-fuelled approach to stunts.
When we first meet Rachel, she’s working for MI6 on a routine mission. While she seems like a techy sort of agent with little field experience, little do her team know that she’s actually working for The Charter. A top secret organisation made up of former government agents, the group now uses cutting edge technology to resolve international situations that governments alone can’t. Separated into four groups, they take on the names of card suits, with Stone belonging to the hearts.
As Rachel tries to hide her real identity from her unit, which includes Jamie Dornan’s Parker, Yang (Jing Lusi) and Bailey (Paul Ready), this is made difficult by the intervention of a mysterious hacker (Alia Bhaat) who may just be a very serious threat.
As we get to know these characters and their world, it becomes clear that there’s not much to them. Gadot’s secret agent is more interesting when she seems inexperienced. When it’s revealed that she can do pretty much anything – fighting, hacking, driving like a maniac – the facade of any kind of vulnerability falls away. We learn very little about Stone throughout the film, which doesn’t help in making the character likeable. Even when she is meant to show some emotion, Gadot’s performance is very serious and doesn’t show a lot of range.
Her companions are perhaps more likeable, but they’re not exactly fully fleshed out. Bailey is defined entirely by loving cats and Fleetwood Mac. Lighthearted banter is used as a replacement for the characters having proper personalities and development. There’s also a lot of talent in the movie that goes to waste. While Rachel spends time with MI6, she has The Charter’s Jack of Hearts (Army Of The Dead's Matthias Schweighöfer) in her ear advising her. Jack is essentially her man in the chair (sans chair – he chooses to stand) and regrettably doesn’t get much to do. Sophie Okonedo is also underused as Stone’s boss.
Whilst action films can be perfectly enjoyable without incredibly complex characters – and Heart Of Stone sometimes is – it does hamper the film by undercutting moments that are meant to be emotionally impactful.
But let’s talk about the action scenes. There are plenty of them, and an early car chase proves pretty exciting. Netflix has previously had a habit of putting chase sequences in their films that are cut together quickly to mask the fact that the vehicles are clearly going about 20mph. Thankfully here there’s a proper sense of pace and speed.
However, other action scenes don’t fare so well. There are some ambitious parts of Heart Of Stone, but unlike the best action franchises out there (once again evoking the name of Mission Impossible) they’re obviously executed with a lot of help from CGI. Gal Gadot’s running is pretty good, but again, no one does it better than Tom Cruise. Unfortunately for Gadot and director Tom Harper the Mission Impossible comparisons are inevitable, especially as the film shares executive producers with Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One and that’s featured heavily in its promotion. Sadly, it’s a comparison that it can’t really live up to.
Heart Of Stone leaves us on a note that implies there’s meant to be a sequel. To be able to leave an audience wanting more, you need to either make us care about the world and characters, or provide some excellent escapism with well-executed action. If you’re ambitious, then maybe both. Unfortunately, both the characters and the action here end up being fairly generic.
Heart Of Stone is streaming now on Netflix.
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