Starring: Alia Bhatt, Gal Gadot, Jamie Dornan, Jing Lusi, Paul Ready, Sophie Okanado
Director: Tom Harper
As the much-awaited Hollywood debut of the versatile Alia Bhatt, this spy thriller has created quite the media buzz despite being hampered by the Hollywood actors’ strike. While ‘Heart of Stone’ gets its Netflix release around the world this week, special theatrical events give the film conceived on such a large canvas a deserved wide-screen treatment.
Rachel Stone (Gadot) is a shy and unassuming MI6 operative whose expertise lies in busting through the toughest online security firewalls. Her spy mates – Yang (Lusi), Bailey (Ready) and the hunky Parker (Dornan) – are understandably protective of their newest member as they pursue a dodgy asset in the hills of Italy.
But their well-hatched plot is spiked on execution by an elusive young upstart Keya (Bhatt), who succeeds in outsmarting Rachel’s superior hacking techniques. Keya’s shock manoeuvre sets off a series of high-octane chases, with a little help from Rachel’s clandestine bosses belonging to a so-called “Charter” of hi-tech spies. It is then inevitable that Rachel’s MI6 partners will soon discover her true identity as a double agent as their pursuit takes them to the cobbled and windy streets of Lisbon, Portugal.
Will super sleuth Rachel Stone succeed in talking Keya around to join the ethical hacking side in time to prevent a brewing catastrophe that could literally mean the end of the world?
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This is one of those films with spoiler alerts packed into every turn. So, without going into too much detail of the plot, it is fair to say that Alia Bhatt has made her Hollywood debut with a real bang! She plays Pune-born IT genius Keya Dhawan with an ease and understated expertise that would make Indians proud of their latest cinematic export. That this is the same actor who can pull off the saree-clad sensuality of a Karan Johar melodrama and a dressed-down hacker with equal ease is what makes her one of the most talented Bollywood artists around.
That said, it is the power-packed script and direction with a series of high-voltage action shots through snow-capped mountains and stormy desert terrain that make ‘Heart of Stone’ a real treat. Gal Gadot excels as the female equivalent to Tom Cruise’s ‘Mission Impossible’ stunts, in a film that also packs a solid punch with some witty one-liners and surprise twists.
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All in all, this is a great one to stream at leisure or indeed enjoy on the big screen for the full impact.