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‘Heart of Stone’ is an Exciting Action Blockbuster Triumph for Netflix – Review

*This review was published during the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. At GoC, we fully support the creatives who are part of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

After several disappointments from Netflix’s action department, the first trailer for Tom Harper’s Heart of Stone led to plenty of skepticism. But thankfully, the blockbuster has an engaging plotline, an entertaining supporting cast and a lingering mystery that comments on today’s reliance on technology to tell a good action tale perfect for the final weeks of the summer. A new action heroine is born in the middle of a secret war that involves several espionage organizations, massive explosions and plenty of hand-to-hand combat, put together to fill a Sunday afternoon.

Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone in Heart Of Stone. (Photo by Robert Viglasky/Netflix © 2023)

Gal Gadot stars as international intelligence agent Rachel Stone, a fearless, resourceful person capable of finding quick solutions to the problems she has to face in her line of work. At the beginning of the story, Rachel is seen as an underdog due to her lack of experience in the field. After working exclusively as an information technology employee, Stone is allowed to join her MI6 team for one specific mission set at a ski resort. While she tries to catch a villain, audiences learn something extremely important about Gadot’s character, set to change the course of the entire story.

The audience and Stone’s team are fooled, as Gadot’s character is more than meets the eye; an agent capable of taking out several groups of armed men. When she’s forced to save her team’s life, her shy disguise is compromised and a lot of explaining needs to be done. However, when an AI called the Heart, a machine which is the most wanted possession on the planet because of its surveillance and manipulative properties, is stolen by a new player on the scene, Keya (Alia Bhatt), the odds are stacked against everyone with extreme danger around every turn.

Sophie Okonedo as Nomad and Matthias Schweighöfer as Jack of Hearts in Heart Of Stone. (Photo by Robert Viglasky/Netflix © 2023)

The beauty of the plot twists included in Heart of Stone demonstrates how the script written by Greg Rucka and Allison Schroeder completely trusts its audience, and resists the urge to leave obvious clues scattered around the first act. Without spoiling the major plot points of the release, development is truly capable of coming out of nowhere with no previous warning. The constant revelations during the first half of the movie make it engaging, fast-paced and could place viewers in a position where they’re eager to find out where the story is set to go next. Rachel Stone’s path towards victory will turn out to be unreliable, to say the least.

That said, there were moments that the pacing could use some help, especially during the second act of Rachel’s story. After the non-stop sequence found in the first hour of Heart of Stone, the beat of its drum becomes slightly uneven, willing to move the characters forward, but brought down by its need to deliver exposition. Some of the missions are quickly explained without too much thought, which could make sense for the people who thought about the logistics hundreds of times during the writing of the screenplay, but it doesn’t translate well for an audience watching the movie for the first time.

Jing Lusi as Yang and Jamie Dornan as Parker in Heart Of Stone. (Photo by Robert Viglasky/Netflix © 2023)

However, what truly shines in Tom Harper’s summer blockbuster is the supporting cast. Jing Lusi, Paul Ready and Jamie Dornan play Stone’s charismatic MI6 teammates. Their chemistry as a group makes it easy to care about them when placed in extremely dangerous situations. Unfortunately, their performances outshine Gadot’s and which brings the overall potential of the movie down. Her soft-spoken charisma doesn’t suit a woman who constantly loses everything she took for granted at times, and a touch of vulnerability is what Rachel Stone seemed to lack during her time on screen.

Despite that setback, with a solid script and a supporting cast that seems to shine brighter than the lead during some crucial moments, Heart of Stone represents what the audience needs at the end of the summer. There’s plenty of action to enjoy and intrigue lurking around every corner in Rucka and Schroeder’s story about a secret agent who feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere in the world. If you’re looking for something to catch up with while staying at home, Netflix’s latest action effort would be a very comfortable option.

Rating: 7/10

Heart of Stone premieres on Netflix on August 11.

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