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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Heart Of Stone Review: A (Not So) Mission Accomplished

Heart Of Stone begins as another call for celebration. In the constant pursuit of ‘representation’ of several Indian talents like Dhanush in The Gray Man and Priyanka Chopra in Citadel, Alia Bhatt makes her Hollywood debut in this Tom Harper directorial. This Netflix venture is made on a huge budget. Promotions were in full swing but the strikes cut them short.

The picture centres on Rachel Stone (Gal Gadot), a member of the mythical organisation called The Charter, who has to keep her identity safe from her MI6 team. Parker (Jamie Dornan), Theresa Yang (Jing Lusi) and Max Bailey (Paul Ready) are on a mission in Italy to capture a man named Mulvaney. Unexpectedly, she meets a mysterious Indian hacker named Keya Dhawan (Alia Bhatt) who hacks into the military-grade comms of the MI6 and the Charter.

Soon enough, Stone realises that there’s a larger threat looming around, one that aims to hijack The Heart, a quantum computer used by Charter that can hack into anything and gives almost near-perfect predictions and recourses. Stone a.k.a Nine of Hearts, with the help of the Jack of Hearts (Matthias Schweighöfer), needs to prevent the Heart from falling into the wrong hands.

With Barbie emerging as a blockbuster, it is empowering to see feminist narratives take centre stage. Given that his previous works like Wild Rose and even The Aeronauts (to an extent), champion the voices of resilient women. Here, the canvas is much bigger and more in the commercial space. The action scenes are engaging. With locations ranging from icy mountains to deserts, it is fun to watch the globe-trotting that takes place.

The movie’s premise is intriguing by seeing two strong actresses as the lead and antagonist. Gadot, as always, is a solid performer. Her execution of fight scenes and one-liners are confident, bold and unapologetic. Bhatt endeavours to portray a character which is distinct from her previous works… Her first attempt at a slightly grey and ethically-challenged role. But, an actor of her calibre certainly deserved a better American debut.

Unfortunately, whilst the packaging is attractive, the script and storyline are lukewarm. Despite a stormy commencement, the pace slows down rapidly packed with cliches and predictable tropes. The technology use which we’ve seen previously in major films like Minority Report is dated and does not offer a new insight into espionage escapism.

Generally, in fact, the whole ‘saving the world from doomsday’ trope has become way too repeated during the pandemic. Even though Gadot once again adapts the Wonder Woman-esque, her character writing is too paper-thin. Likewise for Bhatt. Dhawan, her character, comes from a disturbed past, we needed to see more about her characteristics and personality. Sadly, a lot of potential material is left half-baked.

On the whole, Heart Of Stone is relatively underwhelming. Despite its novel packaging and visual aesthetics, the film seems to only rehash tried-and-tested traits. Nonetheless, it’s good to see Hollywood awakening not just in the diversity and inclusion movement, but also in creating meatier roles for women. But it’s high time that with this, they also get solid scripts which justify their worth as artists.

⭐️⭐️.5 (2.5/5 stars)

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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