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Gal Gadot Does James Bond for Netflix

The Pitch: Rachel Stone (Gal Gadot), on first glance, is a MI-6 operative who doesn’t get out of the van on missions, leaving the real action to her fellow agents Parker (Jamie Dornan) and Yang (Jing Lusi) while making small talk with operative/designated driver Bailey (Paul Ready) about his cat. However, turns out she’s far from just a lowly computer tech; she’s actually a double agent, working for an independent agency known as the Charter, which has no allegiance aside from wanting to save the world from itself. (Outside of actual Charter members, only conspiracy theorists believe in its existence.)

Stone’s team is unaware of her additional affiliation, even as she works secretly to make sure that their missions go off without a hitch — that is, until an orchestrated attack on the Charter itself forces Stone to reveal her secrets. At stake is the Heart, a highly advanced chip that can take over any computer system in the world, and also has the ability to accurately predict potential outcomes in any scenario. In the wrong hands, it could end the world. Good thing Stone’s on it.

The Name’s Stone. Rachel Stone: Maybe you rolled your eyes a little bit, at finding out that the main character in the feature film Heart of Stone is named Rachel Stone, and she’s trying to track down a device called the Heart. Frankly, you’re blameless in this regard — it’s a little silly. Yet, if you’re willing to overlook that, this is one of the stronger recent Netflix original films to date, at least from the subgenre one might entitle Action Dramas Featuring an A-List Star That Won’t Be Getting an Oscar Push.

It’s certainly on the level of the Charlize Theron-starring The Old Guard, a thoroughly enjoyable (if slightly overlong) Gina Prince-Bythewood joint released in the summer of 2020, and that’s not exactly a coincidence — writer Greg Rucka has his name on both scripts. Rucka is both a novelist and a writer for comics (The Old Guard was based on his graphic novel, which he helped to adapt) and some of his prior work, especially the Queen and Country series, has occupied the female-led spy drama space; it’s honestly exciting to see him tackle an original story like this.

And Tom Harper, whose last big feature was The Aeronauts, delivers clean solid action with some solid twists and thrills (while managing to find some use for his recent exposure to the joys of aeronauting, thanks to one blimp-based sequence). While the Russo brothers have attempted to put their stamp on this genre lately with last year’s Netflix original The Gray Man (short review: blah) and the Prime Video series Citadel (short review: even more blah), Harper is to be applauded for finding his own engaging angle (one that’s several steps up from blah).

Tinkers, Tailors, Soldiers, Spies: In some ways, Gal Gadot is very much a traditional movie star, but in the model of Arnold Schwarzenegger — appearing in multiple franchises and stand-alone projects, without ever actually disappearing into a role. How much of that is due to being closely identified with one singular performance (The Terminator in Arnie’s case, Wonder Woman in Gadot’s), or just being so distinctive an on-screen presence that no matter what the role, you can’t help but see them as the star they are? Top scientific minds are investigating this, I’m sure.

Heart of Stone (Netflix)

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