By: Russ Matthews

The film industry yearns for a female action star who can capture the audiences of James Bond and Ethan Hunt.

There have been characters who have managed to break through the male-dominated world of espionage and hand-to-hand combat, such as Salt and Atomic Blonde. Netflix has been working to find the right vehicle to introduce its version of a female spy icon with Charlize Theron and Jennifer Lopez. Still, things haven’t fully caught on with audiences. Yet, if there is anyone who has the potential to fight her way to the top of this genre, it would have to be a project headed up by Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman).

She embodies the unassuming MI6 agent Rachel Stone, known to her team as the IT specialist with little field experience. Until they discover that this intelligent woman has skills that prove to be something that goes beyond any training they have received. Stone has infiltrated MI6 through the work of The Charter. This malevolent organisation strives to maintain order worldwide through an omniscient device called The Heart. As Stone’s team begins to piece together her skill set, they must figure out how to bring down an artificial intelligence terrorist named Keya Dhawan (Alia Bhatt). Except things within this intelligence unit may not be as they seem, and the most significant threat may be found within this tight-knit squad.

Something Lost in Translation

Director Tom Harper’s film has all of the components of an exciting addition to the action genre, but something happened in translation. Everything that makes these stories engaging and long-lasting for audiences managed to fall short of expectations. Without adding extensive spoilers, the first aspect that needs to work is the action and fight sequences. Each scenario had potential, but seemed to sample from another franchise instead of offering something original. Most of the stunts were reminiscent of Mission Impossible and the Bourne trilogy without the same edginess that makes each of these films worthwhile revisiting.

This opens the door for potential character development and dialogue to counter some underwhelming action sequences. Despite Gadot’s commitment to the role and doing her best to lead this production, the rest of the cast failed to have the depth of character or believability to make the audience connect with them. Sophie Okonedo, Jamie Dornan and Matthias Schweighöfer do their best with what they are given. Still, they can only do so much with a poorly developed script; despite their talent as actors there is little they can do to salvage this screenplay. Also, using the overarching control of The Heart leans into the all-too-familiar fear of technology that reached its climax in Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One. Then to place it in a fragile blimp to keep it out of potentially evil hands had to be one of the worst ideas for security in film history. This leaves the film with a ‘been there, done that’ feel, making this whole adventure feel a bit pedestrian.

Heart of Stone should have offered Gal Godot the next franchise after Wonder Woman. Still, this movie struggles to find any heart, and like a heavy stone, it lands with a responding thud.

REEL DIALOGUE: Where Are All the Good Leaders?

In our world, we are experiencing a leadership vacuum. This is painfully obvious in Heart of Stone, proving that a person’s identity is exposed. At the same time, they are placed in the crucible atmosphere. Yet, each leader within these various organisations proved to be less than impressive and leaves you wondering how the espionage communities of the world survive if these are the best on offer.

Most of the celebrated leaders throughout history may not be perfect. Still, despite their flaws, they can rise above themselves to impact history. In this current political climate, there are few leaders to celebrate, which forces people to look to the past for examples. A great example of an unassuming leader who rose to the challenges set before him is that of a servant of a king who became the saviour of a nation. The story of courage, considerable opposition and the right man at the right time in history.

Nehemiah’s is a fascinating study of leadership and exceptional focus on achieving the goals set before him that rivals and possibly exceeds most of the leaders portrayed in cinema today. Nehemiah’s story

If you want to discuss leadership and God, contact us at Third Space. We would love to chat about this and more.

Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.

All images: Movie stills

About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.