A star rating of 2 out of 5.

Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot swaps superheroes for spy craft in Heart of Stone, a derivative, deadly dull espionage actioner.


Like her previous Netflix collaboration, the art heist comedy Red Notice, this feels like a bland assembly-line, made-by-committee piece of 'content', almost entirely lacking in personality.

It’s a film where characters say things like "showtime!" and "we have to go dark" - nonsensical phrases you only ever really hear in movies.

Gadot plays Rachel Stone, who is part of a crack undercover team that includes Parker (Jamie Dornan), Yang (Jing Lusi) and Bailey (Paul Ready). When we join her, she’s yet to go into the field, but a mission in the Italian Alps soon changes that, as Stone finds herself at the blackjack tables, keeping an eye on their target.

Within minutes, she’s biking her way down mountainsides, showing that she’s more than capable. "Who the hell are you?" someone cries. "It’s complicated," comes the cliché reply.

More like this

Racing against highly capable hacker Keya (Bollywood star Alia Bhatt), Stone and her allies are soon aligning with covert peacekeeping taskforce The Charter to gain control of 'The Heart', an omnipotent algorithm that can "crash a market or drop a plane out of the sky".

Her immediate boss is a woman named Nomad (Sophie Okonedo), who spends most of her time in a government nerve centre, equipped with 3D virtual screens borrowed straight out of Minority Report (spare a thought for German actor Matthias Schweighöfer, who spends his entire time waving his arms around like a madman, as he uses this tech).

Scripted by Greg Rucka and Allison Schroeder, there isn’t much that doesn’t seem grafted from another movie here. Wanting to be a female-driven James Bond or Mission: Impossible (whose production company Skydance are behind this) might be a worthy idea, but stealing plot ideas and set-pieces isn’t the way to do it.

The lengthy Alpine pre-credit sequence alone feels like a remix of scenes from 007 classics For Your Eyes Only and The Spy Who Loved Me, while a later sequence set in an airship recalls Max Zorin’s vessel in A View to a Kill.

Read more:

Directed by Tom Harper, a British filmmaker with a hitherto impressive array of credits including The Aeronauts with Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, Heart of Stone has plenty of elaborate, explosive action and a plot that spirits audiences from Italy to London, Portugal to the Senegal desert, and finally Iceland.

All of which means it feels like a globe-trotting spy movie, just without the nuance or texture. By and large, the characters are flat and lifeless, led by Gadot’s blank slate.

Perhaps this all taps into Tom Cruise’s portrayal of Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible series, but the writing is far better in those films. Here, the gang all bopping along in their van to Fleetwood Mac’s 'Everywhere' is about as much as you’ll get when it comes to character development.

At least Motherland’s Paul Ready adds a touch of humanity to his character, one that’s akin to Simon Pegg’s Benji in the Mission movies. Only he and Dornan walk away from this with any credit.

There are twists – one that might catch your breath – and even some innovative locations (Nomad meets her fellow 'Kings', a group of spymasters, in what appears to be a box at an empty Royal Albert Hall).

The action is also well-staged, notably a motorbike chase near Reykjavík, which involves another pop classic – Foreigner’s I Want to Know What Love Is.

But aside from a bruising fight in the denouement, the set-pieces are largely forgettable. If Rachel Stone will return – to paraphrase the Bond movies – she’s going to need more ambitious creatives behind her than this.

Heart of Stone is on Netflix from 11th August. Sign up for Netflix from £6.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

Check out more of our Film coverage, or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


Try Radio Times magazine today and get 10 issues for only £10, PLUS a £10 John Lewis and Partners voucher delivered to your home – subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.