Genre Action | Crime | Thriller
Synopsis An intelligence operative for a shadowy global peacekeeping agency races to stop a hacker from stealing its most valuable and dangerous weapon.
The Plot Heart of Stone by Netflix starts with a secret MI6 mission in the Alps. The mission goes wrong, forcing IT trained Rachel Stone to take action despite her lack of training. Unbeknownst to her team, she's actually a skilled agent from an even more secretive organization called the Charter. Assisted by what it seems like a powerful AI tool called the Heart, Stone helps her MI6 colleagues without their knowledge.
I don’t know Jamie Dornan from Fifty Shades but I do know him from The Fall so seeing him at the bar just made me think there is no way he is a good guy in this movie. Turns out, I was right. He seems to have a knack for two-faced roles.
The opening scene offers that the movie is about Rachel more than it is about the international criminal they are about to capture. A strong Indian hacker, Keya Dhawan, aims to steal the Heart which is an AI interface that has access to banking, weapons and people’s daily lives. This sets off a global chase involving Stone's MI6 team and the Charter. She's torn between the Heart's calculated missions and her personal instincts. I believe this conflict is what gives the movie its name Heart of Stone.
Despite the Heart being the focus of the movie, the plot does not delve into the intriguing setup of humans versus an objective algorithm. Surprisingly, the AI is never wrong, avoiding moral dilemmas and emotional equations. Stone's mistakes of rescuing her colleagues and instincts are what lead to problems. The potential consequences of the Heart falling into the wrong hands results in a swift plot but one that leaves a lot for the viewer to question.
The people Both leading women from opposite ends are shrouded in mystery, with limited insights into their personas apart from their immediate interactions with those in their vicinity. The uncovering of who they are is what drives the Heart of Stone in the end.
Rachel Stone (portrayed by Gal Gadot) who was rescued when she was younger by Nomad who is The Chapter’s leader. Stone wins where stunts are concerned, but where dialogue and character growth are concerned, it seems forced. From the moment she finds out what the hackers are after, she seems driven by a desire to do what's morally right, this perspective remains unchallenged throughout the narrative. There is also the scene where she sits with Bailey’s cat as if they are desperately trying to show her character in different angles, it worked and it didn’t.
Keya Dhawan (portrayed by Alia Bhatt and known for her Bollywood movies) comes off as this angry-at-the-world hacker who wants justice for her parents and for those who are used by rich people. While her portrayal was apt, the goal seemed idealistic and immature. You would go through so much trouble to get to the Heart when you could have just hacked their details anyway? Remember, she was capable of overriding security details to get to the Locker but she couldn’t list out the people she wanted to hack? Keya’s immaturity shines bright when she realises Parker’s intentions of getting into the Chapter involves murder. She realises she doesn’t want it this way and towards the end switches sides to help Rachel. She is eventually recruited by the Chapter as well.
Dr Yang (portrayed by Jing Lusi) and Bailey (portrayed by Paul Ready) work perfectly as the supporting characters who are brushed aside quickly to make way for the main plot.
Parker (portrayed by Jamie Dornan) could have been developed into so much more. He’s an excellent actor that was given a villain role that honestly fell short. The background is that his team was killed in a botched mission which was overseen by three of the Kings (people who control the Charter). He was the only one who survived but presumed dead by the Kings. Getting the Heart was his revenge against them and as soon as he has control, he starts to kill them. It all seems very detached. I think if they had extended the movie by just a little bit to show Parker become what he did, his rage might have made more sense?
Similarities, questions and thoughts The Heart isn’t a new concept. Black Mirror, Season 3 Episode 3: Shut Up And Dance portrays something similar where hackers track people who do less than savoury things online then blackmail them to see how far they would go to cover their dark side. This is then repeated in Luther: The Fallen Sun, where what you do and everything about you is observed online. In Luther, this was then used to blackmail people into performing acts, murder or ultimately suicide.
Is the Heart plausible? In a way, we are already there. Is it some kind of warning to what extent AI can go, maybe. But the biggest flaw in Heart of Stone was the manpower controlling the Heart. Remember Keya was able to create a security feature where only she could access it. Why was this not done originally? The Kings were there, Jack of Hearts (portrayed by Matthias Schweighöfer) was there. It seemed so out there that Keya could just hack into all of this then go up to the Locker which was tens of thousands feet in the air with no form of fight from the Heart. Something so expensive, so complex and there was only one of it?
Given that we are introduced to some of Stone and the functions of the Heart, are we to expect a series of movies like Mission Impossible or was this a test to see how viewers would react to a female version of Ethan Hunt?
The Heart missed Parker and that’s a big tell. Something so good wasn’t able to figure out who Parker was even using biometric? Again, Parker was a good villain just half-baked.
Behind the scenes
Director Tom Harper
|REVIEW FOR HEART OF STONE, 2023|
|Overall Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐|
|Acting / Character Development ⭐|
|Plot / Story Development ⭐ ⭐|
|Recommended Watching ⭐ ⭐ ⭐|
Summary ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Quick to finish but lacks plot and character development.
It’s a movie to watch with friends or in the background and could have been a lot better if dialogue and characters were developed.