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Heart of Stone Movie Review (Spoiler Free)

Its Mission: Impossible, without the Impossible Mission Force. A disappointing, generic, style-over-substance espionage action-thriller.

Rachel Stone in Heart of Stone

Genre: Action / Crime / Mystery / Thriller

Director: Tom Harper

Cast: Gal Gadot, Jamie Dornan, Alia Bhatt, Paul Ready, Jing Lusi, Sophie Okenedo, Jon Kortajarena, BD Wong & Matthias Schweighöfer.

Run Time: 122 min.

US Release: 11 August 2023 (Netflix)

UK Release: 11 August 2023 (Netflix)

German Release: 11 August 2023 (Netflix)

Welcome back to my blog, with a two-parter of Netflix-released reviews. After watching Hidden Strike on my way to Austria, I watched the newest release of the streaming giant on my way back; a new spy-thriller meant to rival Ethan Hunt’s, as well as Bond’s adventures. Starring Gal Gadot as the titular character Rachel Stone, this cloak-and-dagger premise left me rather cold than excited for potential sequels, as it sets out to become a new spy franchise. Maddening is the fact that Netflix is selling an already established idea as something new. So, throw on your high-tech gear as we spy through my review for Heart of Stone

Stone, an intelligence operative for a global peacekeeping organisation working from the shadows, is embedded into MI-6 as an asset. A race ensues when a hacker is on the verge of stealing the most valuable and dangerous weapon.

American novelist Greg Rucka, conceived the story for the streamer's production, co-writing the script with Allison Schroeder. The concept is clearly taken from Paramount’s espionage series, with the hopes of turning this into a franchise for Netflix itself. Regrettably, this is content for content's sake, stealing parts from other popular features and implementing them into its core plot, selling it as something fresh.

Taking a closer look, this is literally Mission-Impossible, with a little bit of James Bond plus Salt sprinkled in, but without any originality to make this an own property. It even goes so far as to include an AI that is utilised by the secret organisation The Charter, to calculate future beneficial events for humanity. In the wrong hands, though, it could be turned into a dangerous weapon. All of this has been already seen multiple times this year, only done better! It does include an interesting idea, yet is utterly forgettable!

The narrative starts head-on into a mission, without any vital information about the world-building, its people or the assignment on screen, hindering any investment by the audience. It also doesn’t help that the plot is paper-thin, with no character growth or investigation, as all roles are already fully developed. That said, it is a fast-paced outline, with action set-piece after action set-piece, which unfortunately contains no surprises or suspense.

The dialogue isn’t much better, containing already heard conversations about chequered pasts, making the right choices, as well as the clichéd good versus bad. It also includes some random keywords from card gaming, simply added to make it its own property.

One of the bigger issues is the already fully evolved characters, which have no room for further development, making it a boring feature to follow, and begs the question of why audiences should care for the characters.

Gal Gadot as the lead Rachel Stone, does what she can with the material given. The character has an odd combination of the actress’ charm, without any liveliness in her. The dialogue lines given to Gadot, just like the way she is directed to portray her character, do lead to an uninteresting, wooden rendition.

Alia Bhatt, who plays the young hacker Keya, is the most interesting out of all personas. Keya is given some wiggle room for minimal potential evolution, learning from mistakes made. That said, she is also written as unbearably obnoxious. Bhatt gives a good enough rendition, in her first Hollywood-produced flick.

Jamie Dornan, who portrays Parker, did fully embrace his part. I won’t say more as this is a spoiler-free review. That said, his path is easily foreseeable!

Finally, we have Matthias Schweighöfer as Stone’s handler Jack, playing as always the quirky persona. By now, he is just being typecast for that role.

The camera work is plain mediocre for an espionage blockbuster of this magnitude! The pacing feels hurried, due to the weird editing structure that barely permits for some downtime in between adrenaline-pumped sections. The imagery has no substance, looking detailed yet empty. The colour is cold, desaturated, just like extremely over-lit at times. The editing ain’t much better, cutting the many action scenes into unrecognisable snippets. That said, there are some intriguing shots, which had entertaining value.

The effects are not great! A lot of the stunts or conflicts are filmed in front of a green screen. Then there is the computer overlay in specific segments, which looks poorly rendered. The worst offence, however, is the addition of computer-generated characters in dangerous scenes, looking like boneless rubber people.

The soundtrack by Steven Price is emotionally manipulative, creating too much noise for what is ultimately presented on screen. The popular songs used feel wrongly placed, especially the first scene opening with a hip-hop track.


Verdict: It shows poor taste to release a movie like this, so close after the newest release of its copied template Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Pt. 1. The screenplay is completely unoriginal, stealing parts from previous popular premises. There is no characterisation, nor is there any sort of exploration of the narrative. It is simple action-after-action, which is generically shot on camera. The effects feel unfinished, with visible use of green-screen plus CGI. The imagery is over-lit. Gal Gadot is charming, though her character is already fully developed, with no room for growth. Jamie Dornan is a clichéd persona and Bhatt plays an insufferable young hacker. By this point it is nothing new for Netflix to dump yet another mediocre blockbuster, however, their quantity-over-quality policy is starting to get a little tiresome by now! Heart of Stone is content to run along while doing chores, something that films shouldn’t be! It’s a 4.5 out of 10.

So, Heart of Stone. Did you already see it? If so, do you agree with my review? Thank you as always for reading. Don’t forget to share & subscribe!


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