Friday 11 August 2023

Heart of Stone (Movie Review)

The Netflix content machine is still chugging along like the well-oiled train that it aspires to be. And as anyone who has tried to browse through its massive catalog of movies could attest, its Netflix Originals in particular are pretty much hit or miss with varying levels of quality and entertainment value. But every now and then, you get a genuine diamond in the muck, a film that is so great that it helps justify your continued subscription to the streaming service. Unfortunately, Heart of Stone is not that movie.

The film stars Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone, an MI6 agent with very little experience in the field. But unbeknownst to her teammates, she is actually far more skilled than her resume would let on. She is in fact a double agent also working for the Charter, a secret organization with the sole purpose of helping other agencies and world governments to keep the peace. But when the complex computer system that makes their clandestine operations possible falls into the wrong hands, Rachel will have to go rogue in her pursuit of the people responsible.

With a plot that sounds like a hodgepodge of Mission: Impossible story beats, Heart of Stone can't help but feel derivative by design. The fact that it is coming from the very same production company responsible for Dead Reckoning Part One only goes further to highlight that its writers might have been pulling from the very same well of ideas. This is not to say that that other movie would score any points for originality. After all, it was the seventh entry in a series that appears to have done it all at this point, a fact that is currently being reflected in its less-than-solid box office performance.

But even in the realm of derivative spy thrillers, Heart of Stone still manages to sink toward the very bottom of the barrel. This is primarily because it is a movie that feels like it could have been cobbled together by the very same AI at the heart of its narrative. It tries to tick a number of arbitrary boxes, like having a strong, female protagonist to root for in the person of Gal Gadot, a generic villain with a mysterious past that ties into the central conflict, as well as a quippy sidekick to bring in some levity. You know, the way that most modern action movies on Netflix would.

Except it doesn't endeavor to do anything more than the very bare minimum in each of those areas which results in a bland, uninspired movie-watching experience that barely manages to register or pass as entertainment. Add to that the fact that the movie often veers into full-blown campiness in the area of its characterization, with intelligence agents that lack intelligence and an overall ensemble that is driven by some of the most wooden performances I have seen all year, and you start to get an idea of just how poorly executed most of it feels. Even the music and song choices that fill out its soundtrack feel played out with its mix of forgettable pop songs and cookie-cutter compositions, none of which ever quite manage to elevate the on-screen action.

Heart of Stone is Mission: Impossible at home. And unlike those other films which at least sought to push the boundaries for action movies within the constraints of their fairly formulaic trappings, this one seems content with merely adding to the sludge of Netflix Originals created to pad out its library. Perhaps it could have been salvaged if the filmmakers had opted to lean into its corny dialogue and inherent campiness and turned it into a fun, B-movie-styled parody of the genre. But as it currently stands, the movie lacks any kind of heart or soul and I can't recommend it as anything more than something to pass the time with on a slow Saturday afternoon.


  1. Sounds like it'd be better to just watch Red Notice again. This sounds like a rival to all those cheap action movies starring Bruce Willis or Nicolas Cage that usually end up on Amazon or Hulu or some other streaming service along with Redbox.

    1. Lol. That was the exact same sentiment I had while watching it funny enough.