HEART OF STONE Review. Female version of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE?
The latest installment of Mission: Impossible is currently available in theaters, while Netflix has treated us to what could seem like a promising imitation of the iconic series starring Tom Cruise, but this time with a woman as the secret agent saving the world. And it must be admitted – the titular Rachel Stone, a woman of special tasks, exudes the most charisma among all the characters, drawing us in and convincing us to endure the entirety of the Heart of Stone film. However, does the new movie starring Gal Gadot and Jamie Dornan in the lead roles really offer something more than what we haven’t seen before in spy cinema? The creators’ fascination with artificial intelligence ruling the world led them to venture a bit too far with fantastical technological novelties bordering on the absurd, causing even the most devoted fans of the series to feel somewhat disappointed and, at times, embarrassed. Nonetheless, some elements manage to pass by decently on screen if, of course, we approach the film with considerable detachment, not expecting anything overly groundbreaking, and above all – anything coherent (or grounded).
Impossible Missions Agents
In Heart of Stone, there is not a moment of respite for the viewer. We immediately step into the tumultuous and perilous daily life of agent Rachel Stone (Gal Gadot) – a recent recruit to MI6, a secret organization combating international conflicts. To her colleagues, she appears somewhat lost and inexperienced, but only a few know what Stone truly does. Her informal employer is Charter – a peacekeeping unit that employs today’s popular artificial intelligence to protect the world from danger. Stone manages to keep her dual identity secret for a time, but it’s not a sustainable endeavor. Everything is revealed when an unexpected intervention by a hacker named Keys Dhawan (Alia Bhatt) disrupts an MI6 mission. At this moment, we also learn of the sinister intentions of Stone’s former partner, Parker (Jamie Dornan). The agent must rise to the occasion to prevent the power of Charter and The Heart, a special mechanism controlling the globe, from falling into the wrong hands. In the process, she may lose friends, colleagues, and worst of all – if her borderline insane mission fails, it could trigger another bloody war in the world.
Even the highly sensational and action-packed introductory sequence of the film suggests the kind of action cinema we are about to experience – Rachel Stone not only resembles James Bond or Ethan Hunt, but literally shatters the records set by them for surviving accidents. In the first quarter-hour, her survival odds are calculated by a machine, which determines the percentage chance she will avoid harming herself as danger approaches. However, from our perspective, riding a motorcycle down a snow and ice-covered mountain, practically slaloming with technology-induced visions in her contact lenses, looks somewhat comical and otherworldly. And this is just the beginning of the ultra-modern and slightly grotesque attractions the screenwriters have in store for us. The AI could just as easily replace Gal Gadot herself, as the completely unreal actions her character performs with the aid of technology border on the absurd, causing the authenticity of the production to wane considerably. It’s unclear whether we are still within the bounds of contemporary reality or if the creators have taken their computer intelligence-driven imagination too far.
However, beyond the futuristic elements designed to lure the audience away from linear thinking and immerse them in this unrealistic world, Heart of Stone is a classic, overly formulaic spy film where almost everything is handed to us on a platter within the first hour of the screening. While Rachel Stone is intriguing with her mystery and genuine altruistic desire to save humanity from threats, she herself doesn’t captivate the viewer enough to overshadow the flat and pale secondary characters. Her partners and The Alliance agents have been treated with neglect, and the origins of Charter are never truly explained, leaving us uncertain about whom, if anyone, we should be rooting for. The intentions of the main antagonist, Parker, are also not adequately presented – his character remains vague, his thoughts and motives were evidently not a priority for the screenwriters, leaving one of the most crucial characters, a cornerstone of the final battle between good and evil, a puzzling enigma that, for some reason, we are meant to dislike.
Been There, Done That
The tension-building beginning of Heart of Stone is a bit misleading, making it seem like there is more to it than just impressive special effects and daring stunts. However, the plot twist we receive comes too quickly, robbing us of the enjoyment of following the story if we were experiencing any enjoyment in the first place. The grandly advertised spy thriller turns out to be a schematic and simply boring misfire, using familiar names in an ineffective attempt to mask a plot full of holes and uninteresting twists that can be found in much better productions. Rachel Stone doesn’t even come close to the heights of the classics she was supposed to be compared to. After a deeper analysis of Mission Stone, even if you aren’t a fan of Tom Cruise’s increasingly dangerous adventures, when compared to Netflix’s new film, they will seem quite down-to-earth and less inflated.
Heart of Stone remains a failed, overhyped endeavor that becomes quite tiresome after a certain point. It offers no surprises, but plenty of trivial and cheap plot solutions, which become even more tedious and annoying upon repeated viewing. With a better script and more attention to character psychology, Gal Gadot’s role wouldn’t have felt so clichéd and transparent. Speculation aside, Heart of Stone is a mission wasted from start to finish.