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Life & Style

In review: ‘Heart of Stone’ where Alia Bhatt falters on Hollywood debut

  • Gal Gadot outshines fellow cast members, but movie leaves lot to be desired
Published August 16, 2023
Photo: Netflix
Photo: Netflix

‘Heart of Stone’, the fast-paced, high tech spy thriller debuted on Netflix this past weekend, quickly climbing to number one on the English-language film list for the week of August 7 to August 13 with 33.1 million views, according to Deadline.

The film also debuted with high expectations due to its star cast.

Gal Gadot (Rachel Stone) headlined the film as an intelligence operative for a global peacekeeping agency, The Charter – with no governance or oversight – as she moonlights for the MI6.

Jamie Dornan (Parker) is a fellow MI6 agent, which predictably sets both Gadot and Dornan up for the rest of it. The film also marked Bollywood actor Alia Bhatt’s debut in Hollywood, but more on that trainwreck later.

What to watch this August: ‘Heart of Stone’, ‘Billions’, ‘Depp V Heard’

The plot begins in the brilliant alpine slopes which moves on to reveal a plot to steal the Heart, a really cool piece of AI software which can hack into anything, anywhere and which pretty much powers The Charter, and thus controls all else.

Bhatt’s character, Keya Dhawan, a superhacker, has been hired to steal the Heart, thus setting in motion a cat-and-mouse chase spanning several continents.

There are a few twists to the storyline, but unfortunately, most of them are predictable. The film itself as a whole barely delivers.

It has all the brilliance or at least the precursor to it, as the first few minutes of the film promise, but it fails to deliver.

The action and tech remind one of the ‘Mission Impossible’ and ‘Jason Bourne’ franchises, (intelligent technology, Gadot jumping out of airplanes, MotoGP-calibre driving, etc).

Gadot’s character reminds one of ‘Red Notice’ and ‘Wonder Woman’, so you know there is potential there, but alas, remains untapped and only exists on the periphery.

‘Purpose and dedication in playing the bad guy’: Alia Bhatt on ‘Heart of Stone’

Bhatt too, does not deliver, or at least maybe that’s what her role set her up to do – we’ll likely never know. She plays a villain with not convincing-enough swagger, and later, not convincing-enough candor as a do-good hacker either.

She delivers her lines deadpanned, is in serious need of a costume revamp, and cannot seem to lose her Bollywood twang – basically has zero presence on-screen.

In short, she is overshadowed by Gadot’s character and the rest of the supporting cast.

All in all, an entertaining action-flick with a tired plot and tired arcs, not ranking too high on the cerebral barometer either, albeit with fleeting moments of brilliance. The film uses card analogy for the Charter’s operative procedures throughout – one of the few moments of script wit. For example, the heads of The Charter are Kings and Queens, their software is the Heart, as we know, and agents are identified as numbered cards (Nine of Hearts, Jack of Hearts, etc).

Also cool is the globetrotting our spies indulge in, so expect fun backdrops like Portugal, Senegal and Iceland, but that’s about it. Watch at your own risk, but don’t put off an evening’s plans for it.

Alia Bhatt set to headline Yash Raj Films’ spy universe: report


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