It’s a bit surprising that Netflix’s Heart of Stone isn’t just as bad for something that closely mimics the previous Prime Video series Citadel. The standard for these things is so low these days that you can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief at just being able to sit through a movie from start to finish without having given up. It’s not that it’s much better; it’s at best watchable.
Gal Gadot, for whom this might be a new franchise that will probably last her a decade after she hangs up Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth, is partially to blame for this. Her most recent movie for Netflix was the dreadful Red Notice, another big-budget franchise-starter that, as was to be expected, has vanished from people’s minds so quickly that the streaming service might as well have removed it from its archives. Heart of Stone frequently has the sensation of an actual movie, in contrast to that movie and other “content” like The Gray Man and Ghosted.
For example, it doesn’t appear to have been filmed somewhere inside a warehouse, or worse, that it was focused over Zoom. Its action has a tactfulness that appears utterly uncharacteristic in the streaming era. Naturally, there is a ton of green screen work on show, but to put things in perspective, Heart of Stone is a spy thriller set all over the world. Nowadays, rom-coms that take place in apartments don’t bother to shoot on location.
Gadot plays Rachel Stone, a shy data cruncher entrenched in the MI6 who, after spending the first act essentially in disguise, undergoes a Naina Catherine Kapur-ification and becomes an elite super spy. Rachel is a member of The Charter, a covert organization whose mission is to uphold world peace using nebulous means. The Impossible Mission Force from the Mission: Impossible films—you forgot what IMF stood for, didn’t you?—seems to be The Charter’s equivalent at times, and the Kingsmen from Matthew Vaughn’s films look to be The Charter in a less cult-like light.
Their covert location resembles the interior of a historic fort in Rajasthan that has been converted into a Nappa Dori shop, complete with a pet peacock. However, this isn’t the only Indian influence in the movie. Alia Bhatt, who is without a doubt the most successful (and significantly, most acclaimed) Bollywood star of her generation, makes her Hollywood debut in Heart of Stone. And rightfully so. She has been wasted here, though, boy. She undoubtedly understood she was agreeing to be in a Gal Gadot movie, but her function here is comparable to Nathalie Emmanuel’s in the Fast & Furious films.
Bhatt plays 22-year-old Pune hacker Keya Dhawan, who competes against Rachel to find a MacGuffin known as “The Heart” in the movie. Imagine a hybrid of 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL 9000 with The Entity from the most current Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One. The Heart is capable of accurately calculating the chances of success after taking a particular action, which effectively allows it to foresee the future. The Heart has the potential to be a tool for global hegemony in the wrong hands.
There are times when the soundtrack, particularly in the first half, makes it seem like things will be lighter. It almost seems as though filmmaker Tom Harper neglected to make his protagonists groove to a Fleetwood Mac song during the gloomy second half. Instead, an Oscar-winning composer named Steven Price provides the film’s last act with a continuous score. Like the composer of last year’s Qala, Price seems to have appreciated Jason Hill’s iconic tunes for Mindhunter.
Source: Indian Express