Netflix's Heart of Stone Movie Review — An inoffensive start to a new action franchise

Netflix's current modus seems to be taking a big, recognizable Hollywood actor and building an action movie franchise around them. It worked with Chris Hemsworth in Extraction. It worked with Ryan Gosling's The Gray Man. And now it's Gal Gadot's turn with Heart of Stone.

Gadot stars as mild-mannered MI:6 field agent Rachel Stone, who acts as the "guy in the chair" for her more action-oriented colleagues Parker (Jamie Dorman), Yang (Jing Lusi), and Bailey (Paul Ready). Unbeknownst to them, however, is that Rachel is actually a super spy working for the shadow organization known only as The Charter, who uses an AI called "The Heart" that is so advanced, it can predict the future with up to 99% certainty.

Using The Heart, Stone is able to help her team on the sidelines while fighting the battles no single government could. In the right hands, The Heart could be a tool to save many lives. But when a mysterious hacker sets their sights on The Heart, it begs the question, "Whose hands make it right?"

At first glance, Heart of Stone is packed to the gills with some of the biggest en vogue action movie tropes, from clandestine organizations policing the world to wild future tech, from cool code names to gorgeous location shots complete with its name superimposed on it. Derivative? Definitely. Boring? Definitely not. Director Tom Harper gives Heart of Stone a snappy pace and heart-thumping action set pieces, all to shine a spotlight on the reason the movie was greenlit: Gal Gadot.

Although maybe it's not a good idea to shine it too brightly. Gadot has a metric ton of charm and is often distracting as the most ridiculously good-looking person in the room (like, aren't secret agents supposed to not stand out?), but she sleepily punches and kicks — and acts — her way through the movie. So much so that Heart of Stone feels like one of those parody movies starring an incredibly famous actor that Saturday Night Live loves to do to poke fun at Hollywood.

The rest of the movie doesn't really fare better. The paper-thin plot is surprising coming from screenwriter Greg Rucka, who also did The Old Guard for Netflix. Heart of Stone has some interesting themes that go to waste from the get-go. A highly advanced AI that can hack into everything? Turned into a MacGuffin for Gadot to chase. Questions of why does The Charter wield The Heart to maintain the status quo? Too boring, here are some explosions instead. The cast around Gadot try their best to fill in the gaps left by their lead star, but they also have problems of their own. One character in particular, Alia Bhatt's Keya, starts off promising as the cocky young hacker antagonist to Gadot's Stone, but ends up making so many hare-brained decisions that she gives antagonists a bad name.

Still, I had fun watching it in the comfort of my couch, munching on donuts with my mom and getting excited when the movie tells me to get excited. Nothing wrong with playing it safe. If you're looking to sit down and watch a no-nonsense action movie that demands nothing from you, Heart of Stone delivers on that front. Just don't expect anything more.

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