Who spies the spies? Who knows the unknowable? Who controls the controllers? Who offers covert supports to brainless secret services when they get themselves into trouble?
If you’re familiar with the Gray Man or Mission Impossible this piece is no new spice to you.
Rachel Stone (Gal Gadot), a member of the mythical organisation called The Charter, has to keep her identity safe from her MI6 team — Parker (Jamie Dornan), Theresa Yang (Jing Lusi), and Max Bailey (Paul Ready) — who are on a mission in Italy to capture a man named Mulvaney. Unexpectedly, she meets a mysterious Indian hacker named Keya Dhawan (Alia Bhatt) who hacks into the military-grade comms of the MI6 and the Charter. Soon enough, Stone realises that there’s a larger threat looming around, one that aims to hijack The Heart, a quantum computer used by Charter that can hack into anything and gives almost near-perfect predictions and recourses. Stone a.k.a Nine of Hearts, with the help of the Jack of Hearts (Matthias Schweighöfer), needs to prevent the Heart from falling into the wrong hands. On a later mission, Parker turns rogue and kills Yang and Bailey and finally reveals himself as the main antagonist who teams up with Keya Dhawan (Alia Bhat) with the primary objective of dismantling “The Charter” due to a betrayal from the Charter (yeah, he was one of its members) and Keya with her average revenge backstory
The one episode that sticks out as a sore spot, unfortunately, has Alia throwing one clichéd dialogue after the other. To portray her as a young adult single-minded on revenge, Keya is written as a 22-year-old; while Alia charms her way into the film and does her best to accentuate the pale shade that has been given to her shallow character (she’s nothing but a desi teen Killmonger), the dialogues and the delivery keeps throwing you off. The actor certainly deserved a better English-language debut.
The action is terrific, with screaming, tyre-shredding extended car chases around the streets of Lisbon’s narrow, webbed and cobbled alleys. The whole plot just balances on a powerful AI referred to as “The Heart” which collects information at light speed & calculates optimal outcomes.
The much too tidy script lays the blame on a single leader’s mistake rather than a flaw within the machinery or the very foundation of the institution that it advises.
“Heart of Stone” then wraps up the entire moral issue by killing off many characters and setting Stone up with a brand-new team. This is the age of IP and sequels and franchising, after all. It’s also the era of big data. So, I guess it’s about time we got a soulless film whose entire raison d’etre is to launch a new female-led franchise that also somehow acts as pro-surveillance state propaganda.