AI to the left of me, AI to the right, and here I am stuck in the algorithm with you. Gone are the days of Terminator or I, Robot style directness when dealing with Hollywood digital villains.
Now, it’s all about self-learning tools. Tools to be used by gosh darn goodies or right old wrong ‘uns.
Heart of Stone, starring Gal Gadot, seeks to filch from the Mission Impossible back pocket where your every move can be predicted by a set of 1’s and 0’s.
What Is Heart of Stone About?
Rachel Stone (Gadot) whilst seemingly working for MI6 is actually working for ‘The Charter’: a secret international non-governmental organisation that uses AI programme ‘The Heart’ to guide all operations.
The Heart can access any digital device in the world and provide real time augmented reality guidance.
It’s not dystopian though, these are the good guys! Except, ah, the bad guys just sprang a trap to steal The Heart. Darn.
Get ready to listen to a bunch of casually thrown about terminology quick off the bat because Heart of Stone has world building in the same way that planning departments have local consultations: presumably it is happening somewhere but somehow *you* never see it.
It’s fine to shorthand everything down to a Mission Impossible style service and settle for a general action movie.
Heart of Stone finds it difficult to pin what its main character should be. At turns Stone is ultra-competent yet easily fooled; trauma scorched but with mid car chase quips at the ready.
Gadot’s action prowess can certainly lead a film (Wonder Woman proved that) but her stilted delivery often takes the wind out of any action banter.
It doesn’t help that she mostly operates in isolation. For plot reasons her team are either not on camera long or entirely divorced from her location.
The Charter cast are filled with good actors, too. Sophie Okonedo as the ‘King of Hearts’ adds as much motherly emotion as she can to an otherwise flat character, whereas Matthias Schweighöfer essentially replays his skilled operator role from Army of the Dead, and Army of Thieves but with 30% of the personality.
Heart of Stone Official Trailer
Is Heart of Stone Worth Watching?
It won’t be the characters that warm your Heart of Stone. The action sequences are a pick-n-mix but generally after a rummage you do come up with a fizzy cola bottle in your hand.
An undercover operation at a ski resort makes for some good alpine chases. Whilst the mystery of Stone’s character still remains, and scales all the way up from desperate apartment assassination swerves to skydiving onto a blimp for some floating fisticuffs.
Gadot’s physicality makes for satisfying fight scenes but, to draw a Mission Impossible comparison again, Ethan Hunt is a carefully balanced mix of all-knowing Superman and seat-of-the-pants-improviser.
Stone’s core is unfocused. Motivated by dashes of childhood trauma and unsure loyalty, she moves from set piece to set piece more by force of plot contrivance than individual agency.
Much like last year’s The Gray Man, Heart of Stone is another Netflix action movie that seems to have all the parts in place but no overall vision to build something solid with them.
In The Gray Man, the Russos, at least, smartly cast Chris Evans as a larger than life villain. Here the antagonism falls flat (bitter person be bitter) with one character whose unfocused existence screams ‘change of heart!!’ right off the bat.
You could drop Heart of Stone into the ocean of your watched movies and it wouldn’t cause a single ripple. Feel free to watch it sink without trace.
Words by Mike Record
Cast Of Heart of Stone
Gal Gadot as Rachel “Nine of Hearts” Stone
Jamie Dornan as Parker
Sophie Okonedo as Nomad / King of Hearts
Matthias Schweighöfer as Jack of Hearts
BD Wong as King of Clubs
Alia Bhatt as Keya Dhawan
Glenn Close as King of Diamonds
Mark Ivanir as King of Spades
- Apple TV brings you the future of television, right at your fingertips. Immerse yourself in the world of laughter, inspiration, and heartwarming moments with the critically acclaimed show, Ted Lasso, and a plethora of other captivating content.
- Star studded, award winning series and films.
Amazon Prime Video
- Welcome to a world of boundless entertainment, where thrilling stories come to life at your convenience. Amazon Prime Video invites you to explore a universe of gripping narratives, including the adrenaline-pumping series, "Reacher," and an extensive selection of captivating content that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
- Additional benefits of Prime Membership: Music Streaming Service, Amazon Photos and Exclusive Offers
- Delve into a world of original storytelling, where Disney's creativity knows no bounds. With Disney+ Originals like "The Mandalorian," "WandaVision," and "Loki," you'll witness new narratives and characters that expand the enchanting tapestry of the Disney universe.
- Great collection of Kids series and movies.