Heart of Stone (2023 film)
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|Heart of Stone|
|Directed by||Tom Harper|
|Story by||Greg Rucka|
|Edited by||Mark Eckersley|
|Music by||Steven Price|
Heart of Stone is a 2023 American spy action thriller film directed by Tom Harper from a screenplay by Greg Rucka and Allison Schroeder and a story by Rucka. The film stars Gal Gadot, Jamie Dornan, Alia Bhatt, Sophie Okonedo, and Matthias Schweighöfer. Its plot follows an international intelligence operative who must embark on a dangerous mission to protect a mysterious artificial intelligence system known as "The Heart". She is tasked by the peacekeeping operation known as Charter to keep the object safe from falling into enemy hands.
Development began in December 2020, when Gadot signed on to star. Harper and Netflix were confirmed to serve as director and distributor respectively the following month, with the rest of the cast being confirmed in early 2022. Filming took place in Europe from January to July of that year.
Heart of Stone was released on August 11, 2023, by Netflix.
In the Italian Alps at an ultra-exclusive ski resort that doubles as a casino, MI6 field agents Parker, Yang, and Bailey, supported by technician Rachel Stone, are tasked with extracting Mulvaney, an arms dealer who is there gambling on an actual in-session U.S. Marines combat operation being livestreamed. The mission quagmires when Yang is caught trying to sedate Mulvaney, prompting a gunfight. Parker manages to extract Mulvaney to a cable car, but the rest of the team sees Mulvaney's men beginning to assemble at the bottom of the mountain for an ambush.
Stone feigns injury to allow contact with the Charter, her true employer, an agency dedicated to peacekeeping, working beyond the realms of government, and operating in absolute secrecy. It uses "The Heart", a predictive AI quantum computer capable of hacking into any digital device, to guide all operations. Stone, codenamed "Nine of Hearts", is an acclaimed field agent.
Realizing that MI6 cannot save Parker in time, Stone works with her operational contact, "Jack of Hearts", to save him. Despite her success, the mission fails when Mulvaney takes cyanide and dies. Back in London, Stone is reprimanded for nearly blowing her cover by Nomad, her Charter superior. Concerned by the presence of a hacker she saw in the Alps, Stone breaks into Parker's family residence and uses his computer to identify her as Keya Dhawan, an orphan with links to Indian criminal syndicates. MI6 sends the team to track Keya down in Lisbon, with Stone still undercover. Upon arrival, they are ambushed by a squad of mercenaries. Jack orders Stone to evacuate, but she refuses, going back to save the team at the expense of her cover. After they escape, Stone reveals she is a Charter agent.
Parker murders Yang and Bailey, revealing himself as a double agent working with Keya. He admits to covertly murdering Mulvaney as part of his overall mission to find The Heart. Parker paralyzes Stone with poison before implanting a device within her to act as a trojan horse to infiltrate Charter systems. When Stone is recovered and taken to Charter HQ, the device begins breaching security. Stone manages to rip out the device, stopping the hack. However, because of the circumstances, Nomad suspends Stone from duty.
Nomad, one of four "Kings" who lead the Charter, meets with the other three Kings to discuss Parker, who is seeking revenge because of an MI6 operation in Chechnya eight years prior, where he was inadvertently left for dead after the Charter destroyed a weapons cache. Having learned from the hack that The Heart's command system is located in an airship high above western Africa, Parker and Keya fly to the ship. Stone intercepts them, but is unable to stop them from seizing control of The Heart and imploding the ship, jumping off at the last second and getting ahold of the rope they are on from a helicopter, with Keya on the lower end.
Stone manages to separate Keya from Parker by cutting the rope, and the two fall into the Senegal desert, where Stone learns The Heart can only now be unlocked using Keya's biometric data. They narrowly avoid an ambush by Parker's associates, who Stone evades by jumping off an ocean cliff, and is met by a Heart colleague. Six of Hearts rescues Stone and flies her to Iceland, where Parker has activated The Heart. He uses it to assassinate the King of Diamonds and the King of Clubs, and trap Nomad, Jack, and the London agents in their bunker to suffocate. These actions horrify Keya, as Parker shows a complete disregard for collateral damage.
Keya, realizing Parker is power-hungry and no better than those she wants to bring to justice, allies herself with Stone by shutting down The Heart, and revealing Parker's location. Stone kills Blond, Parker's lead henchman, and arrives at the Heart server compound. Parker takes Keya hostage and tries forcing her to reactivate The Heart. Stone confronts him, and after a brutal fight, shoots Parker dead. Keya is able to rescue Nomad, Jack, and the bunker team by restoring The Heart. Keya goes to prison and Stone visits her, offers her amnesty in exchange for her service to The Heart.
Four weeks later, Stone is on another mission, joined by her new team members: Keya, now codenamed Joker, and Jack where they cause streetlamps to shoot sparks in celebration of Christmas in a town square.
- Gal Gadot as Rachel "Nine of Hearts" Stone
- Jamie Dornan as Parker
- Sophie Okonedo as Nomad / "King of Hearts"
- Matthias Schweighöfer as "Jack of Hearts"
- Paul Ready as Bailey
- Jing Lusi as Yang
- BD Wong as "King of Clubs"
- Alia Bhatt as Keya Dhawan
- Archie Madekwe as Ivo
- Enzo Cilenti as Mulvaney
- Jon Kortajarena as the Blond
- Glenn Close as "King of Diamonds"
- Mark Ivanir as "King of Spades"
It was announced in December 2020 that Gal Gadot had signed on to star in the film, which is planned to be the beginning of a franchise in a similar vein to the Mission: Impossible franchise. Tom Harper was in negotiations to direct. The story was conceived by Greg Rucka, and the script was written by him and Allison Schroeder. Harper was confirmed in January 2021, with Netflix acquiring the distribution rights to the film. In February 2022, Jamie Dornan was cast to star alongside Gadot. In March, Alia Bhatt, Sophie Okonedo, Matthias Schweighöfer, Jing Lusi and Paul Ready were added to the cast. The film also marks Bhatt's Hollywood debut. With a reported production budget of $150 million, it is among one of Netflix's most expensive films.
Principal photography began in the Alpin Arena Schnals (South Tyrol) on January 26, 2022, following in London on March 8, 2022. The second schedule of filming then took place in Reykjavík, Iceland the following month, after which production moved back to London in May, for the succeeding schedule. The fourth schedule took place in Lisbon, Portugal. Filming wrapped on July 28, 2022.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 30% of 135 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 4.9/10. The website's consensus reads: "Gal Gadot remains an entertaining action star, but she's no match for Heart of Stone's thinly written characters, generic plot, and rote set pieces." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 44 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average" reviews.
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