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Dan Webster reviews "Heart of Stone"


So, here’s a question: What happens when you mix Mission: Impossible with a jot of John Wick, throw in a morsel of Minority Report and top it all off with a passing reference to the television show Person of Interest?

Answer: You just might end up with something like Heart of Stone, the Netflix streamer that stars Miss Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot, as a spy who, if she so chooses, will take on missions that would be—in anything other than a movie fantasy world—impossible.

Which is understandable because, as directed by Tom Harper, from a screenplay by Greg Rucka and Allison Schroeder, Heart of Stone is mired in the kind of cinematic fantasy that treats the laws of physics as inconvenient. Or, worse, irrelevant.

Gadot plays Rachel Stone, the newest member of an MI6 team, MI6 (formally the SIS) being the United Kingdom’s equivalent of America’s CIA. Tasked to capture an international arms dealer, the team—despite Stone’s best efforts—fails in its objective. Those efforts, by the way, include fancier parachute skills (thanks to CGI) than even those employed by stunt-crazy Tom Cruise.

Stone’s skills, in fact, surprise her comrades. See, Stone is a mere techie. She, though, is being directed by those in charge of something called The Heart, which is the main MacGuffin around which the whole movie revolves. And The Heart is, as one character explains, a world-changer—being “a computer sophisticated enough to hack into anything anywhere.” It can even predict the future, which explains the above Person of Interest reference.

The ramifications of that kind of power are obvious. Yet The Heart, and the group behind it—a rag-tag band of do-gooders known only as The Charter who work outside of government control—are so secret that they are considered mere myth. Fairly quickly, though, we discover that both are all too real. And that Stone is involved in more ways than one.

This, though, is where Heart of Stone gets far too complicated for its own good. Because as duplicitous as Stone is, it can’t match the motives of one of her team members, Parker (played by Jamie Dornan). And while we’re engaged in trying to figure out whether those two are going to kiss or kill one another, we get introduced to Keya (played by Alia Bhatt), the computer whiz who is working on a revenge plan of her own.

And let’s not forget The Charter itself, which is led by Nomad (played by Sophie Okonedo) and her chief assistant Jack of Hearts (played by Matthias Schweighöfer), his abilities at bringing The Heart to life in mid-air making what Tom Cruise—again—did in Minority Report seem like kindergarten finger-painting.

Finally, though, we have the four kings (here, then, is the John Wick reference), two of which are played by Glenn Close and B.D. Wong. These are the forces behind The Charter, and who end up being targets themselves—as will be the entire world unless Stone, against all odds, can intervene.

Action-adventure films aren’t known for their snappy dialogue, though the Indiana Jones franchise succeeds better than most. In Heart of Stone, this is the kind of line readings that we get: “Are you trying to kill us?” Parker asks Stone in one seemingly reckless get-away driving sequence. “Quite the opposite, actually,” she retorts. Cue the laughter.

Even worse than the dialogue, though, is how fast and loose the movie plays with simple science. Helicopters can’t climb higher than 25,000 feet, and they can’t hover higher than 10,000. Yet Heart of Stone has a helicopter soaring to 40,000 feet to greet the dirigible-looking aircraft that houses The Heart.

So, okay, we don’t look to such action-adventure movies for authenticity. Indiana Jones, you’ll recall, actually travels back in time. And there are only so many ways you can race through the streets of Lisbon or blow up one of the chief landmarks of Reykjavik, Iceland. But Harper, whose best previous film was the 2018 character study Wild Rose, does as well as he can with both.

Given what he had to work with, though, he truly was facing a—if you’ll excuse me—mission: impossible.

For Spokane Public Radio, I’m Dan Webster.


Movies 101 host Dan Webster is a senior film critic for Spokane Public Radio and a blogger for