"...abysmal, still born cinematic failure in almost every sense"

This Heart Sinks Like a Rock

(011824) I tried to go into Heart of Stone with an open mind, and I was in the mood to be entertained. There is quite a bit of impressive talent involved here. For starters, it was directed by Tom Hopper who is known for doing Peaky Blinders, which is considered by many critics to be one of the best streaming shows currently on TV.

Heart of Stone was co-written by comic and graphic novel writer, Greg Rucka who had successful runs on Detective Comics, Wonder Woman, and the Punisher. He also created the Indy hits: Queen and Country and Whiteout. But perhaps most impressively, he created
Old Guard, which was made into an entertaining film series. Unfortunately, Heart of Stone is an abysmal, still born cinematic failure in almost every sense.

For many, Gail Gadot will be the main draw of the film. This former Miss Israel, Miss Universe nominee, and Israeli army military drill sergeant was the perhaps the quintessential Wonder Woman (sorry Lynda Carter) and she also sang an embarrassing version of John Lennon’s Imagine in a failed attempt to spread joy during COVID.  Her Fast and Fury films (beginning in 2009) made tons of money, but they did not allow her to stretch her acting talent much.  She failed to make an impression in her other films such as Red Notice (2021) and Death on the Nile (2022), one of the more forgettable Agatha Christie adaptations.

Although she always comes off as commanding and athletic, she has been unable to adequately follow up the first Wonder Woman film (even the sequel was a disappointment) and she is beginning to look like a one trick pony. Sure, she looks great doing her stunts and holding a gun in this film, but her lack of emoting and blank expression becomes tiresome after a while.

The film’s story seems like it is just a thin excuse to get good looking people to perform action scenes in front of exotic locales like Lisbon and Reykjavik.  But I did enjoy seeing Gail Gadot flying through the air in a flying squirrel suit in one of the most absurd sequences of the year. But this is not enough to save the film.

Gail portrays Rachel Stone as a prime mover in the espionage world who is working for a secret government group called M16. But unbeknownst to her teammates she is also working for the Charter which is commanded by a supercomputer called The Heart (which explains the name of the film). The organization is supposed to clean up the messes and lose ends left by other government organizations. I didn’t care about any of this and I suspect neither will you.

The film tries to make us briefly question the morality of anti-terrorist top-secret government groups, but it does not dwell too deeply into these issues. Stone is quick to attack the villains’ motivations, but her own organization is also shady and questionable from a moral standpoint. The film is short-sighted and appears unwilling to explore its own internal contradictions.

Other characters and actors in the cast are even less impressive than Gadot’s Stone.  There is her boss, Nomad, portrayed rather lifelessly by Sophie Okenedo, and there’s Jack of Hearts played by Matthew Schweighofer who is a bland techie who also helps Stone. Paul Ready is the mandatory ace driver and Jing Luisi plays her other teammate lifelessly. These character types have all been depicted much more interestingly in a million other spy films. Also no one here has the exotic and sinister allure or glamour of the classic Bond villains or love interests.

This may not seem like much of a plot summary and to be frank in the week since I saw this film, I forgot almost everything about it. Heart of Stone is so weak, and so derivative, that it plays like either the worst Mission Impossible or James Bond film ever.

Although it is technically competent and occasionally dazzling from a visual standpoint, it fails in almost every other way.  Anything else new on Netflix would probably be preferable to this poorly written and aimless monstrosity which seems like it was made by a committee that thought it was enough to just combine or copy parts of other successful films. Don't say I did not warn you.

Directed by:    Tom Hopper
Written by:    Screenplay by Greg Rucka and Allison Schroeder.
 Based on a story by Greg Rucka
Starring:    Gail Gadot, Jamie Donan, Alia Bhatt
Released:    09/11/2023 (USA)
Length:    122 minutes
Rating:    PG13 for action scenes and some language
Available On:    At press time this was available on Netflix

For more writings by Vittorio Carli go to www.artinterviews.org and www.chicagopoetry.org. His latest book "Tape Worm Salad with Olive Oil for Extra Flavor" is also available.

Mister Carli is going to speak about how the Frankenstein Monster has evolved in the media at Moraine Valley Community College in his upcoming lecture: “The Complete Character is Nowhere: The Evolution of Frankenstein and His Monster in Films, Comics and Songs”
This event is scheduled on Wednesday, March 6th, noon-12:50pm, at Moraine Valley Library Lounge (Building L).

Come to the New Poetry Show on the first Saturday of every month at Tangible Books in Bridgeport from 7-9 at 3324 South Halsted.
This is now a monthly show featuring Poetry/Spoken Word, some Music, Stand Up and Performance Art and hosted by Mister Carli. For more information e-mail: carlivit@gmail.com for details

Upcoming features at the Poetry Show:
February 3-Special Daley College Show featuring Ana Arredondo, Jeremy Basso, Christian Cofield, and Genesis Jiminez

HEART OF STONE © 2024 Netflix Pictures
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Review © 2024 Alternate Reality, Inc.

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