Heart of Stone is Netflix’s latest attempt at launching a potential spy series, this time more in the vein of the Mission: Impossible franchise. After betting big with Gal Gadot once before paired with The Rock and Ryan Reynolds for Red Notice and giving Avengers helmers Joe and Anthony Russo a spy thriller of their own with Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans in The Grey Man, Netflix still found themselves with two films that weren’t nearly as big as they could’ve been and that suffered from storytelling. What we’ve been seeing for the last couple decades is that most big name draws aren’t enough to keep an audience engaged when there isn’t a solid story built around them. Tom Cruise is perhaps the only actor who constantly pushes back against the changing of the times and creates a need to see what his next insane movie is. So, when Netflix needed a new direction for a spy movie it’s logical to look towards what is widely considered the most enjoyable action/spy franchise of all time.
In an age where computers and programs can automate any task and control almost anything electronic on the planet, AI has never posed a greater threat to mankind and its data. When a group called The Charter has access to an AI tool to aid former government agents, they’re able to predict crime and utilize the surroundings of their operatives to enhance their mission with AI guidance. Agent Stone (Gal Gadot) is embedded in an MI6 team (comprised of Jamie Dornan, Jing Lusi, and Paul Ready) to bring in a big baddie, but things take a turn for the worse when her team is attacked, and she doesn’t know who to trust on any side. All she knows is that The Heart (the physical AI tool) is about to fall into the wrong hands unless she can stop it!
Despite this film relying on Mission: Impossible for some of the inspiration for the larger action and emotional beats, Heart of Stone does a pretty good job of paving its own lane in the familiar and managing to make things feel new enough and at times real enough as well. It’s clear that Gadot’s ass-kicking abilities have kept up in her tenure as Wonder Woman because she genuinely kicks a ton of ass in this movie and in a lot of awesome ways. She balances playing a sheepish analyst to keep her cover, but when she gets to be her true self she lets loose on waves of enemies and defeats them in many creatively impactful ways. She’s also quite great in her more tender moments, showcasing the difficulty of growing emotionally attached to people in their line of work and how it can both harm and help you.
While there are dozens of moments and cues that will feel familiar to you in the film, Heart of Stone executes them well for the most part. Even though I know I’ve seen Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves and James Bond’s all do similar (if not identical) stuff, Gal Gadot’s commitment really makes it work. This is more like what many wanted from her second outing in Wonder Woman 1984, showcasing her incredible strength and grit alongside her tender heart and helpful nature. Not having to play up comedy in this film also really helps save it from ending up like most Netflix Originals that have no idea on how to organically time a comedic moment. There are comedic moments in this film, some cheesier than others, but by and large it keeps things mostly serious and it’s all the better for that. Heart of Stone is an enjoyable watch and another pleasant surprise from Netflix. Gal Gadot doesn’t need other stars around her to make her shine and they’d be smart to continue building around her.
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