“Chance of success just plummeted.”Jack of Hearts
Heart of Stone opens strongly with a mountainous MI6 mission that subverts the trope of field agents versus the techies stuck in the van; then the script intervenes and it at all begins to unravel into Netflix’s trademark action movie recipe of big name stars and poor writing. The plot centres around worldwide agency “The Charter” which, beholden to no government, is able to tackle problems that national security services cannot. Everyone receives an alias based on a deck of cards which probably sounded cool on paper but is used inconsistently and seems a highly impractical limitation for a globe-spanning organisation. They operate using “The Heart”, an algorithmic predictive engine that guides their actions — the script plays on fears about ceding decision-making control to AI, yet it seems that following the AI’s direction would have saved a lot of lives. This makes Stone’s rebelliousness harder for the audience to cheer, an essential component of these movies. The action itself includes a pleasing range of practical effects, much of the CGI budget being used to create The Heart’s interactive digital projections as events are analysed in real time back at base. That blend of technology gives Heart of Stone a visual identity of its own, even if there are few memorable set pieces. The result is another competent but forgettable action flick in Netflix’s search for a franchise.
Disclosure: I know personally at least one person involved in the making of this film