Yes. But no. The “HEART OF STONE” review

Dull is the adjective that sticks the most
Gal Gadot, Jing Lusi, Jamie Dornan and Paul Ready
Directed by Tom Harper

Written by Allison Schroeder and Greg Ruka and directed by Tom Harper, the new Netflix action thriller “Heart of Stone” is the dictionary definition of ludicrous.

Gal Gadot (trying hard to emote but coming off stiff as a board) stars as Rachel Stone, a technician for MI6 whose handler is Parker (Jamie Dornan, truly one of the most dreadfully uninteresting actors working today).

Aping the 007 openings, the film begins in the Alps where Parker’s team is watching a man named Mulvaney (Enzo Cilenti), a major European arms dealer. The MI6 team’s cover is blown and Stone must move through the terrain at night.

Our heroine moves by parachute and motorcycle, each moment existing as a chance for some great stunts. Director Harper gives a big fuck you to his audience and uses these scenes to drown his star and film in dreadful CGI.

Ripping off the James Bond series even further, the opening credit sequence rolls while a song (from Noga Erez) plays. This desperate attempt to be hip like Bond fails miserably. The song is terrible, so bad it makes the atrocious Billie Eilish song from Daniel Craig’s James Bond swan song “No Time to Die” sound like “Goldfinger.”

As Gadot and Dornan sleepwalk through their roles, Sophie Okenedo (a damn good actress) shows up to add some class to this picture. The actress has given many excellent and award-worthy performances but none of that is evident here. The actress plays Nomad, Rachel’s direct boss. There is some perfunctory backstory of how Okenedo’s character recruited Rachel Stone when she was not quite 21, but the “depth” ends there as no further explanation is given for either character. Sadly, Okenedo looks completely bored with the role.

The most crushing blow is the presence of Glenn Close. Her surprise appearance gave me hope for a second, but quickly reminded me that the script is void of real characters. The film gives Close nothing special to do or say, ergo her performance follows suit. Years from now, when someone is discussing the actress’s filmography, her part in “Heart of Stone” will be referred to as, “Oh yeah, I forgot she was in that thing.”

The screenplay is both over and under-written.

A computer hacker (Alia Bhatt) is hot on the trail of some kind of supercomputer that can hack into anything. This sends Rachel Stone and her team globe-hopping from Lisbon to Senegal, and then to more exotic locations where the director fails to use his surroundings. Harper is too hurried in wanting to get to the shootouts and chases that he and his cinematographer George Steel don’t take the time to stop and smell the cinematic roses.

If one is going to imitate Bond films, one must remember how well that series uses its exotic locales. The 007 pictures allow the audience to soak up the beautiful scenery of the countries and cities which their characters traverse, only then do they put the action inside it.

As for the twisty yet generic plot, don’t worry, you certainly won’t get lost. The entire screenplay is exposition. Characters repeat the plot over and over from scene to scene while all of the tech jargon is borrowed from countless other spy films.

There are betrayals, life-and-death fights, double agents, globetrotting, guns, hand-to-hand combat, an assassin known as The Blond (Jon Kortajarena), etc.

None of this induces an ounce of excitement. Shaky-cam visuals and sloppy CGI see to that.

When one character uses surveillance which he informs by his hands, the film hopes it will play as cool. In truth, it reminds us of how cool that kind of technology was when Spielberg used it in “Minority Report” and how desperate this film is in trying to make it exciting.

Many adjectives come to mind while watching this vapid exercise in blandness. The one that sticks is dull.

For all the zippy camera pans, gunshots, fights, chases, and action, what director Harper ends up with is a boring series of images that becomes a pastiche of better films.

“Heart of Stone” is another member of an ever-growing club of drab and unexceptional action thrillers that make their action boring and fail to thrill.