Everyone loves a good spy flick from James Bond to Jason Bourne to Ethan Hunt. While these three gentlemen have etched their way into movie history, there has yet to be a successful and long-lasting female lead. Could Netflix have found one in Rachel Stone?
Released on August 11, 2023, Heart of Stone features Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone, an international spy working for a program known as The Charter. Known for her role as Wonder Woman as well as her part in various Fast and Furious movies, Gadot stands out as the lead character in this Netflix hit.
As a member of The Charter, a covert operation that uses “The Heart” a state-of-the-art program to battle global threats, Stone starts the movie as a member of MI6. Posing as a tech specialist, Stone finds herself out in the field, despite her presumed limitations. However, when a relatively routine assignment goes sideways thanks to a mysterious hacker, both Stone and her team become at risk.
With respect to those who have yet to see the movie, any further details of the film will be limited in order not to completely spoil it. While some have and will claim that Heart of Stone is a copycat version of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Gadot, and her castmates manage to carve out their own identity, one with a powerful female lead. Featuring Alia Bhatt, Jamie Dornan, Matthias Schweighofer, Jing Lusi, Paul Ready and Sophie Okonedo, Heart of Stone does its best to avoid the traditional scantily clad, sex appeal focused, female action hero stereotype, focusing on what makes spy movies the most enjoyable…gadgets, car chases, fight scenes and the occasional campy humor.
Speaking of gadgets, Heart of Stone, which plays off a poker-themed agency, comes with all of the token super spy gadgets including the Heart is a data-tracking program, operated by Jack of Hearts (Schweighofer) that would make online video poker fans jealous. The Heart has the ability to not only find anyone, anywhere but also has the power to take over various electronic devices, including planes and nuclear devices.
As for chases, there are plenty of them in this film, from cars to motorbikes, to skydiving, and more, Heart of Stone certainly fills the spy movie quota for chases. And if it’s hand-to-hand combat you want, well, Gadot, a former member of the Israel Defense Forces, certainly proves that whether she is an Amazon Goddess or car-driving weapons expert, or a super spy, she can more than hold her own with her male counterparts.
Some will say that Heart of Stone has no originality, which could be a given since Sundance is the same production company behind the last four Mission: Impossible flicks. However doing so would be a disservice to the cast as Bond, Bourne, and Hunt all share some of the same traits. Sure there is a heavily CG filmed skydiving scene, but that too is not something from the norm in today’s action movie filming, unless of course, you are Tom Cruise.
Whether you loved it, hated it, or sit somewhere in between, Netflix is hoping to make the film into a franchise similar to Bond, Bourne, and M:I. Unlike theatre blockbusters that have to wait for the box office results, Netflix relies on viewership numbers. Despite Gadot’s hopes that Heart of Stone will become a franchise series, based on the first week numbers on the popular streaming service, nothing has been locked in by Netflix.
Given the heavy comparisons to Bond (released every 2-4 years), Bourne (2-5 years), and M:I (3-5 years), the earliest prediction for an “HoS” sequel would likely fall somewhere between 2025 and 2026 (depending on the current WGA and SGA strike). Given that those three movies were big-screen features, a better comparison would be Chris Hemsworth’s Netflix hit Extraction and Extraction 2. Extraction, released in the spring of 2020 brought in 99 million viewers over the first four weeks of release, while the sequel saw 43 million viewers. Following the first two days of its release, Heart of Stone had 33.1 viewers.
Heart of Stone director Tom Harper is hoping that numerous sequels will be in the future, telling Entertainment Weekly, “There’s plenty that I’d like to explore more with Rachel in that regard. There’s plenty of rich territory with Rachel, with Heart, with the Charter. Ultimately we have to see how well it does and see how people like it, but I’m excited about it.”
With the way that Heart of Stone finished and Stone creating her own team, there are plenty of new ways that the story can go, as opposed to repeating the same story over again.
While Gadot has already signed on for two more Red Notice sequels, a Netflix action comedy hit, in which she plays a supporting role to Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds, one would like to see the Israeli actress be given the chance to head up another successful franchise of her own.