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August 11, 2023 / Netflix

Starring: Gal Gadot, Jamie Dornan, Sophie Okonedo, Matthias Schweighöfer, Alia Bhatt, Archie Madekwe

Directed By: Tom Harper

Intelligence agent Rachel Stone (Gal Gadot) is caught between her powerful global peacekeeping organization and the loss of the world’s strongest asset, the heart. With the power to destroy the world caught up in the wrong hands, Stone must retrieve the heart and evade being further compromised in the operation.

Written By Darren

Rating 2 out of 5

Heart of Stone may pack the star power of Gal Gadot and Jamie Dornan, two actors that I always enjoy, but a generic and uninspired story, a painful script and blatant CGI driven action sequences renders Netflix’s latest action film a dud.

Netflix has had some great action films over the years that could have been released in theaters such as The Old Guard and Red Notice. And Heart of Stone had the potential to be their new action hit and franchise starter, especially with Gal Gadot and Jamie Dornan leading the films. Both of them are great leads, but not even their presence can salvage Heart of Stone from being anything other than a forgettable and frustrating action film that spends too much time trying to set up a larger universe and forgets to create an engaging story.

Rachel Stone is an undercover operative for a global peacekeeping agency operating in the shadows, working undercover at MI6 as a technology wiz. But when a talented hacker makes a play for a deadly and powerful weapon with the ability shaping the course of humanity’s future, Rachel is forced to risk her cover to prevent the weapon from falling into the wrong hands.

The biggest offender of the film is the story and script. It is incredibly generic, utilizing common plot points from the spy genre without making any of them unique to this film: a rogue agent out for revenge, a deadly technology based weapon with the power to change the world, and superhero like lead that cannot be stopped. These elements can work, but the screenplay never develops them enough to make them unique to this film. Instead, these plot points feel like they are ripped out of other films and put together to create a film. It doesn’t help that the script is incredibly basic, having characters stating the obvious rather than developing any interesting ideas or compelling character arcs. Never mind the forced humour that does not land that is pushed throughout the film, derailing the more serious spy thriller tone that the film wanted to achieve.

Being an action film, there are multiple set pieces throughout the film. The concepts of the sequences have potential, with exciting parachute sequences, motorcycle chases and hand to hand combat, but the abundant amount of CGI prevents these sequences from generating the energy they need to be exciting. From the second the CGI takes over these sequences, it removes the audience from the film as it is clear the sequences are computer generated, which is too bad because when the action sequences features practical effects, there is a glimmer of what this film could have been.

The end result is that the film ends up wasting the talents of Gadot and Dornan. Both of them are giving it their all in the action sequences, displaying their talents as an action lead, especially Gadot who kicks ass from start to finish. Gadot makes for a solid lead, though she has zero support from the screenplay to create a memorable action hero, while Dornan makes the most of his role, developing his character as much as he can given the limited means he is given to work with. The supporting cast, packing some serious talent including Sophie Okonedo, Matthias Schweighöfer, Archie Madekwe, Glenn Close and BD Wong, but none of them is given the proper time to be anything other than a forgettable supporting character that are utilized as a plot element. It’s too bad, because with a cast this good there was potential for something memorable but none of them seem to be particularly invested in the film while on screen.

Even though the star power of the cast will draw audiences into Heart of Stone and have them click play on Netflix this weekend, there is little to actually recommend about this film. While Gal Gadot and Jamie Dornan try their best to create compelling characters in a mundane screenplay, neither of them can elevate the film to be anything more than a forgettable, frustrating and CGI driven action film that never truly entertains viewers.

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