The latest Netflix tentpole movie has almost instantly rocketed to the very top of the service’s most-watched list. Called Heart of Stone, the flick has claimed the No.1 spot just a few days after its streaming debut last Friday (August 11).
This will be very welcome news for Netflix executives as the action movie starring Gal Gadot is reported to have cost the streamer as much as $300 million to produce. What will be less pleasing is its largely negative critical reception. The abundance of negative reviews could be a concerning sign that Heart of Stone will lack staying power once this initial wave of interest fizzles out.
To be frank, if you’re looking for something new to watch on Netflix right now, there’s a whole host of options we’d recommend before Heart of Stone. Unless you’re on a mission to see literally every movie featuring Gadot, this spy thriller falls squarely into the skip category. So if you want to understand exactly why this Netflix movie misses the mark, here’s everything you need to know about Heart of Stone.
What is Heart of Stone about?
Heart of Stone sees Gal Gadot play Rachel Stone, an intelligence operative for a global peacekeeping organization that works from the shadows known as the Charter. When the group’s most valuable asset, The Heart, is threatened it’s up to Stone to keep the object from falling into the wrong hands.
As you might expect from a big-budget spy thriller, Heart of Stone is a globe-trotting caper whisking viewers across the globe from the snowy Italian Alps to the deserts of Senegal. And in classic genre fashion, it’s also a movie packed with characters who regularly shift their allegiances.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn there’s more than one dramatic revelation that a supposed ally was actually a double agent all along. Plus, if you’re considering giving the movie a shot you should also prepare yourself for plenty of technobabble as the movie touches upon everything from the dangers of AI to the security of biometric data.
Heart of Stone reviews — here’s what critics say
It’s fair to say that Heart of Stone has not been a critical hit. The movie currently holds a poor 30% on Rotten Tomatoes, and while its audience score is significantly higher at 60%, for comparison, Netflix’s other big summer action movie, Extraction 2, scored a much more impressive 86% from viewers (and 80% from critics as well).
Marya E. Gates of RogerEbert.com was pretty scathing, labeling Heart of Stone “An overly calibrated hodge-podge of better movies with absolutely no original thought of its own, populated by stock characters, and brought to life with uninspired filmmaking.”
The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey called the movie an “ideological mess” and was critical of its handling of controversial topics like AI, ultimately branding it a “forgettable straight-to-streaming action vehicle.” Michal Phillips of the Chicago Tribute was similarly damning saying, “Heart of Stone works like a dutiful, beaten-down undercover agent, on deep background, while you watch something else on your laptop.”
Several critics pointed out that Heart of Stone goes to great lengths to set up sequels and potential spin-offs, but Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle clearly doesn’t want to see any more from agent Stone. “Let’s hope this is not the beginning of a secret-agent franchise,” he wrote in an overall lukewarm review.
However, not every writeup was negative. Inverse’s Alex Welch calls it “a surprisingly endearing spy romp,” while David Rooney of the Hollywood Reporter declared it “efficiently entertaining” so long as “you don’t take it too seriously.”
Should you stream Heart of Stone on Netflix?
Netflix has added a fairly sizeable selection of worthwhile movies this month, which makes streaming Heart of Stone far from essential If you’re desperate for a switch-your-brain-off action flick then you might enjoy its effects-heavy set pieces and outlandish narrative twists. But Heart of Stone is unlikely to stay long in the memory.
Perhaps Netflix will attempt to squeeze a franchise out of this film — and its position as the service's No.1 movie should help with this effort — but Heart of Stone is definitely no Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1. Unless you’re seriously struggling for something new to watch on Netflix, there are certainly better ways to fill two hours of your time than watching Heart of Stone.