A spy thriller in the Mission: Impossible mould, Netflix’s latest original blockbuster successfully lights the fuse with a thrilling pre-credits sequence, followed by a series of early revelations that genuinely surprise. Shame, then, that Heart of Stone starts to fizzle in its more formulaic second half.
Gal Gadot (also one of the film’s producers) brings star wattage as Rachel Stone (code name: Nine of Hearts), a tech-savvy operative working for a playing-card-themed spy organisation made up of exceptional ex-agents.
Their USP? All their missions are aided by The Heart, a superpowered AI that accesses systems around the world to predict the odds of every possible outcome. It’s an intriguing, if logically iffy concept; and obviously such tech could be devastating in the wrong hands… Enter mysterious hacker Keya (Alia Bhatt), who infiltrates a mission led by MI6 agent Parker (Jamie Dornan) in order to get to the clandestine group.
Working from a script by Greg Rucka (The Old Guard) and Allison Schroeder (Christopher Robin), director Tom Harper (The Aeronauts, Wild Rose) displays impressive action chops, injecting Heart of Stone with plenty of explosive fights and spectacular stunts. On those grounds, it’s rollicking genre fare. Story-wise, however, it plays all its best hands early on. And when the largely underutilised Heart becomes completely inoperative for a spell, everything gets a lot less interesting. What’s more, the ‘elite’ spies prove utterly useless without it.
Come the third act, there’s an inevitable race against time that’s so by the numbers you won’t need a next-level AI tool to predict how it’s all going to play out.
Heart of Stone is on Netflix from August 11. For what else to watch, here’s our guide to the best Netflix movies and the best Netflix shows currently available.