After watching Heart of Stone it’s clear Gal Gadot could use an Extraction. Not so much an escape or removal from the okay-ish action movies she’s been one of the rare bright lights in, but rather an awesome, adrenaline junkie fodder experience like the Chris Hemsworth series.
Gadot’s got the big screen presence, the physicality and the grit to play a rugged action hero yet hasn’t found many roles that cater to her strength outside of Wonder Woman and the Fast & Furious franchise.
Heart of Stone starts off with a clever idea. Gadot (Red Notice) plays Rachel Stone, the tech whiz of an MI-6 unit alongside wheelman Bailey (Paul Ready) and field agents Parker (Jamie Dornan) and Yang (Jing Lusi). Parker and Yang carry out mission action while Bailey and Rachel stay in the car.
But the catch is Rachel is actually an elite secret agent part of a shadow group, The Charter, comprised of international agents working on their own to keep the world safe. Rachel’s working undercover to steer MI-6 onto the trail of some big-league global threats.
On missions, Rachel has to play a bit of Clark Kent and conveniently take herself out of missions so she can provide aid that only a superspy can accomplish. It’s a fun premise of a James Bond-type character operating behind the scenes to keep their cover from their unsuspecting allies.
Charter members have aliases based on a house of cards and Rachel is the 9 of Hearts. She reports to the house king Nomad (Sophie Okonedo, Death on the Nile) and works closely with Jack of Hearts (Matthias Schweighöfer, Army of Thieves).
Jack is the chief operative of The Heart, a sophisticated probability machine that helps agents map out the best strategies and success rates for missions. Sure, it’s a bit of a secret agent cheat code, but it gets the job done. While Nomad cautions Rachel keeps her distance, she’s increasingly becoming enamored with her MI-6 “work friends” and creating the bonds a Charter member should never enjoy.
A new threat emerges from Keya (Alia Bhatt, RRR), a tech genius in her own right who’s partnered with another dangerous network that’s intent on stealing The Heart and gaining control of the world.
Around the midway point, screenwriters Allison Schroeder (Hidden Figures, Christopher Robin) and acclaimed Wonder Woman comic book writer Greg Rucka (The Old Guard) decide to shake up the dynamic arguably too soon. That choice does raise the personal stakes but takes some of the fun out of the film too.
Then there’s the matter of all The Charter higher-ups blowing off Rachel’s advice in favor of The Heart. Maybe this kind of premise requires the hero to go it alone, but to not have some old fogey advocating to trust instinct over technology felt like a missed opportunity.
Probably the biggest issue is the ease of which The Heart could be compromised. This is the cliche device that could be a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands and the lack of multiple security safeguards is just silly.
For the film’s second half, Rachel keeps traveling the globe trying to get a step ahead of Keya and her allies. Director Tom Harper navigates the action sequences just fine and if that’s all viewers want from Heart of Stone, he’s happy to oblige.
The fight choreography is well-executed as Rachel isn’t positioned as an unbeatable fighter. She takes her bruises, scrapes and slashes, which makes for more exciting enough fights to create a modicum of doubt that Rachel will win on her own.
Gadot is always game for an action role, and she keeps the film watchable.
Heart of Stone needed another round with the script to polish up its rougher edges and questionable plot choices, but at least the action scenes make it an average enough weekend time killer.