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Heart of Stone review: Gal Gadot and Alia Bhatt's espionage thriller is a stylish yet shallow ride

In Heart of Stone, covert agent Rachel Stone (Gal Gadot) and hacker Keya Dhawan (Alia Bhatt) unravel an espionage web, mixing action with AI intrigue.

2.5/5rating
Heart of Stone review: Gal Gadot and Alia Bhatt's espionage thriller is a stylish yet shallow ride
Gal Gadot in a still from Heart of Stone
  • Aishwarya Vasudevan

Last Updated: 04.50 AM, Aug 11, 2023

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Story:

Rachel Stone (Gal Gadot), a seemingly innocuous computer engineer, is actually a covert agent for a global intelligence network known only to the Charter. The Charter appears to be unbeatable thanks to their use of cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology. However, when Stone infiltrates an MI6 team that the enigmatic ace hacker Keya Dhawan (Alia Bhatt) is taunting, she will need to use all of her skills to navigate the dangerous world of espionage that she is about to encounter.

Review:

Gal Gadot is a true action star, and there is no denial. We have seen her pack a punch and be sassy in Wonder Woman and also in her Netflix outing, Red Notice. So showing that she is a part of MI6 gives a hint of Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt from the Mission: Impossible series. Reason? In the first 10 minutes of the film, in which she shows her true identity, she goes from a club on an Alpine mountain to reach the base to catch the "enemy." We see Rachel Stone getting on a parachute, riding a bike, and shooting down a bunch of armed men like it's no big deal. But she gets help from the "Heart," which is the "key skeleton" of the world, basically AI, her guide.

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However, the major disrupter comes in the form of an innocent-looking 22-year-old hacker named Keya Dhawan (Alia Bhatt). She poses the most interesting question to Rachel while the latter searches for a mysterious girl: "Don't you have friends to party with on a Friday night?"

The two-hour, five-minute film has chase sequences coming in every now and then, with locations spreading over many parts of Europe. The film goes from Lisbon to Portugal to Iceland to Morocco in no time, and the only constant is the change of mode of transport.

With the help of The Charter, a wing that helps in peace even after the government fails to do so, they take charge of many things, including Stone, whose alias is the Nine of Hearts. However, all this stuff keeps the film moving and intriguing, so you are left with no choice but to stay glued to the screen, as you might miss another location in no time.

With this come many twists and turns, which show the real faces of the people and their hidden agendas. However, that works well for most of the film, only to come to dismay during the second half. This brings in a major drop in the film, which keeps up the pace of dashing through the snow and desert and also some rocks in equal parts but reaches rock bottom with the storytelling.

The biggest drawback of the eye-striking film is the writing by Greg Rucka and Allison Schroeder, which also brings down the intensity of the characters, which was at an all-time high in the beginning. Only Gal Gadot gets some sort of justice to her character Rachel Stone, and that's because of the smooth action sequences she performs with ease and charm that stays on her face.

Coming to Alia Bhatt, the actor couldn't have asked for a better Hollywood debut than this, but I wish the same could be said about her performance. The actor keeps the look of the 22-year-old hacker from Pune intact, and you might be thinking, How is she the smartest of all in the room? However, after certain revelations, her character is just zeroed down to be wasted in some way, as it could have been better written. Even the actor's performance fails to create any impact, despite having a meaty runtime.

Alia Bhatt in a still from Heart of Stone
Alia Bhatt in a still from Heart of Stone

Jamie Dornan definitely has 50 shades of grey throughout the film, and that comes as no surprise. The actor, thankfully, doesn't have the only "love" interest kind of role that might be anticipated. But it just gets better with a mission that is self-explanatory and nothing new in the world of action franchises.

Other supporting characters, like Sophie Okonedo, bring on the no-nonsense boss vibes as Nomad and keep it up, just like her character offers. However, the one who leaves an impressive mark is Matthias Schweighöfer as Jack of Hearts, who is seen in just one location but brings out his best in those two hours with tensed eyes and quirky dialogues.

Matthias Schweighöfer in a still from Heart of Stone
Matthias Schweighöfer in a still from Heart of Stone

Tom Harper, who has Peaky Blinders to his credit, creates a breezy, action-packed film for Netflix just for fun, and he did have fun. But that fun-to-watch element is limited and easily forgettable, just like the OTT giant's previous action outings, namely The Mother, Extraction 2, and Luther: The Fallen Sun, among many others.

Heart of Stone is a film you have seen before and might see again in the future. It might make for a great watch on your home screen, as you can pause and forward if the typical chase sequences seem like repetitive.

Verdict:

Heart of Stone is yet another slick action film that you will enjoy at the moment, only to realise that this genre also deserves a better story, not just chase sequences with an adrenaline rush.

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