Heart of Stone, the latest big-budget action thriller film on Netflix, clearly aims to be a blockbuster hit with celebrity actresses Gal Gadot and Alia Bhatt at its center. The plot here follows undercover agent Rachel Stone, who works for a secretive intelligence agency and has to face dangerous odds in order to protect a superweapon. While the stage is quite big, as is the setup, with multiple international locations, sharp visuals, and grandly choreographed action sequences, the effect is still quite underwhelming. It is mostly the story and the lack of depth in character motivations that keep us wanting more, although Heart of Stone can definitely be given a watch for its action scenes.
What is the Film about?
Heart of Stone begins with an MI6 operation taking place in the snowy scenes of the Alpin Arena Senales in Italy. At the center of this operation is a new agent, a woman named Rachel Stone, who is a hacking expert and has yet to have any serious field experience as part of MI6. Accompanying her is a small team of three more agents—two field experts, Parker and Yang, and a getaway driver named Bailey.
The plan is to apprehend Europe’s most wanted arms dealer, a man named Mulvaney, who rarely makes any public appearance and is here at the resort to attend a secret gambling party. But before Parker and Yang can get inside the party, their faces need to be added to the list of invitees. For this, Stone is appointed to hack into the framework, but the mission changes course as the system goes offline. Stone now has to step into the hotel and physically hack into the network before adding Parker and Yang’s identities to the list.
Soon, the expert agents walk into the gambling party, realizing that Mulvaney and his associates are betting on live US military operations, and approach their target. But the mission goes haywire once more as Yang gets found out, and Parker has to handle Mulvaney by himself aboard the cable car. It is now that agent Rachel Stone’s real identity is revealed, for she is actually an intelligence operative working for a secretive agency called The Charter and is only undercover at MI6 at the moment. An expert agent in every aspect, Stone clears the path for her MI6 colleagues to successfully capture Mulvaney, but the mission ultimately fails when Mulvaney seems to kill himself with poison. Along with all this, a mysterious woman also hacks into MI6 communications and directly threatens that more chaos is to follow soon.
Who is The Charter, and what is The Heart?
After Rachel Stone’s identity as an agent for The Charter is revealed to us, who this secret organization is and what their plans are become important. Stone’s colleagues at MI6 still do not know who she is, though, and Bailey discusses his doubt that it was once again The Charter involved in this operation after a few previous missions as well. As explained by him, The Charter is a group of ex-intelligence agents from all over the world who have no political leanings or any special feelings for any nationalities, including their own. These agents apparently act on their own accord and carry out whatever operation they are involved in with precise efficiency. Bailey claims that it is for these reasons that The Charter is the most efficient organization on the planet that is still able to maintain secrecy about its existence. In fact, the other members of this small MI6 team even question Bailey’s belief, suggesting that there is nothing called The Charter and it is all only Bailey’s conspiracy theory.
But as the plot in Heart of Stone progresses, it gets clear that The Charter is indeed a secretive organization that has no political or national allegiance at all. Instead, the group commits itself to global peacekeeping and is ready to do almost anything to ensure the world’s safety. Since they work above and beyond any government’s orders, there is no place for political diplomacy among their ranks, and it is, therefore, necessary for them to keep their identities hidden at all times.
Our protagonist, Rachel Stone, is an agent codenamed Nine of Hearts, and she works closely with a team that is headed by a man referred to as Jack of Hearts. At the head of this Hearts team is a woman named Nomad, also appropriately codenamed King of Hearts. The Charter thus has four separate teams named after each of the four suits of a deck of cards, and the Kings of the individual teams only meet at moments considered emergencies. This happens in the middle of the film, when Stone’s identity has been compromised, and there is a new threat looming large.
Along with their secret identities, what makes The Charter even more mysterious is its possession of a superweapon known as The Heart. The first glimpses of this weapon are revealed during the very scene where Stone first contacts her Hearts team, and it becomes clear that this weapon is not used for destruction but rather for information. Soon it is revealed that The Heart is actually a highly efficient supercomputer that can hack into any system that runs on software technology, ranging from mobile cellphones to extremely secure bank vaults and government records. But the hacking ability is only part of The Heart’s exceptional qualities, for it can then compute a series of possibilities in any given situation or event and then provide the best way to tackle the situation. In essence, The Heart can really predict the future in a certain sense, as it states the chance of success and failure involved in each of the possibilities in a situation. It is with the power of The Heart, which is being fed to her via comms, that Rachel Stone is able to take the shortest route down a mountain or a street, take the safest bets during operations, know exactly who she will be facing in fights, and come out successful through it all. The Heart really does not have any real-world basis and is only part of Heart of Stone‘s fictional world, but it is a rather important element in the film as the whole fight is over this supercomputer’s control.
Who is the real double agent on the MI6 team?
The apparently emotionless efficiency with which The Charter carries out its operations also comes into play as Rachel Stone refuses the team’s orders at one point. The Charter wants each of their operatives to be completely emotionless, with no human bonds whatsoever, since having such ties obviously gives rise to biases. Thus, when Stone starts to become friendly with her temporary colleagues at MI6, she is warned against doing so by Nomad. But the woman is unable to keep herself distant from her colleagues, as the likes of Bailey keep sharing about his personal life. To Stone, her colleagues at MI6 are more than just expendable characters she needs for her operations, and she sees them as humans, unlike Nomad or the rest of the Charter team. There is also a hint of romantic interest from Parker’s side initially, that Stone has to brush aside.
Therefore, when it comes to the lives of these MI6 agents, Stone is unable to just leave them in the claws of death during their operation in Lisbon. While preparing for this mission, the team’s hideout is attacked by a group of men who come in search of something. Stone activates the powers of The Heart through her communications with The Charter team, and she is even told the nearest and safest route of escape from the place. However, Stone decides to go against her superior’s orders and instead return to the hideout to save Parker, Yang, and Bailey. Later on in the film, it is also revealed that Stone had found it very difficult to fit in with schools and teams from a very young age, as she would always get into some trouble. Perhaps it was in this team that she had finally found some support and comfort, and hence she was ready to do anything in order to save them.
Stone succeeds in this plan as well, but then a shocking twist is revealed to her and us audiences. As it turns out, Parker was actually a double agent who had been working at MI6 for multiple years only for his own personal motives. By this time, Stone is aware that the young woman who hacked into their communications during the mission in Italy is 22-year-old Keya Dhawan, an Indian expert hacker. Parker is now revealed to be working with Dhawan, as the two intend on finding out the secret location of The Heart and stealing it.
The reason why both Dhawan and Parker were present at the resort in Italy was because the arms dealer, Mulvaney, had gathered important intel about The Heart. During that operation, when Parker was alone with Mulvaney on the cable car, he fished out every piece of information about the supercomputer from the man and then poisoned him so that the MI6 team would not find out anything more. Parker had also been working in MI6 to find out who among the team was a Charter agent, for he and Dhawan had gotten to know that The Charter had sent one of their agents to the British intelligence agency.
Now that Parker finally finds out about Stone, he leaves the woman dying with poison and also inserts into her body a chip that would help him and Dhawan hack into the Charter’s systems. Very much according to his plan, Stone is found by the authorities and taken back to the Heart team’s headquarters, and the chip inside her lets Dhawan remotely hack into the Charter network. It is because of this hack that Dhawan and Parker are then able to steal The Heart, which is actually kept aboard a high-flying aircraft, and also cause more trouble for the Charter team.
What was Parker and Dhawan’s motives behind stealing the Heart?
Although Parker and Dhawan had been working together on their plan of locating the Heart and stealing it from the Charter, their intentions and reasons greatly varied. Parker had once actually been an agent for MI6 and had also been sent to Chechnya for a secret mission with the agency. At the time, a Chechen warlord had been fueling an uprising, killing innumerable people, and the MI6 had been supplying weapons to rebel groups fighting against this warlord. Parker had been sent on this mission to hand over the weapons, but it turned out to be a trap set by the warlord’s men. As soon as it was reported that every member of the MI6 team had been executed, the authorities gave orders to bomb the entire place. However, Parker had managed to survive the ambush attack, but he was shocked to find out that MI6, the organization for whom he had done so much, did not even bother checking on whether he or the rest of the team were alive before they bombed the place. Therefore, ever since then, Parker has turned vengeful against MI6 and the Charter organization, and he wants to kill every agent working for them. Getting his hands on The Heart would not only enable Parker to find out about the real identities of the Charter members, but it would also let him plan perfect strikes to destroy all intelligence agencies.
On the other side, Keya Dhawan was an Indian girl living in Pune when she was orphaned at the young age of eight. During this time, a pharmaceutical billionaire named Niam Kharche used to run businesses in India and also organize IT programs for underprivileged children. It was through such a program that Dhawan learned hacking and was then taken under the personal care of Kharche. However, in recent times, Dhawan had apparently had a falling out with Kharche, and although The Heart had been able to dig out so much about her, the reason for this falling out remained unknown. It is only later that her real intention is revealed, as Dhawan states that her parents had actually been tortured and killed by Kharche as part of his pharmaceutical experiments.
Dhawan had realized this at that very young age, and she wanted to avenge her parents’ deaths someday, because of which, she let Kharche believe that she was indebted to him for her life. Taking all the education and skills she could have, Dhawan then left Kharche’s side and planned on stealing The Heart supercomputer. But unlike Parker, Keya Dhawan’s intention was not to kill anyone but to find out confidential information about Kharche and other unethical businessmen like him and release it to the public, resulting in their being ousted as the evil corporations that they are.
What Happens to Stone, Dhawan, and Parker?
Naturally, as is rather expected, Parker turns into the absolute antagonist during Heart of Stone‘s ending, while Keya Dhawan realizes her mistake and redeems her character. Dhawan never really wanted to cause death to anyone, and she had partnered with Parker only to get hold of The Heart. In fact, she had also questioned her partner’s decision to kill Yang and Bailey, which was not according to their plan. The heartless vengeance that drives Parker is never present in Dhawan, and ultimately, she decides to side with Stone after realizing Parker’s evil plan to kill everyone associated with The Charter.
Although some of the Charter teams and their leaders are killed by Parker with the help of The Heart, Dhawan manages to stop the supercomputer, create a distraction, and also lead Stone to the secret base they had been using. Dhawan and Stone then work together to kill Parker and save the rest of the Charter team.
A month after this incident has passed, Rachel Stone is seen visiting the house of Bailey’s niece, for whom he had bought a toy house. Since Bailey has been killed, Stone now delivers this gift to the niece for him, signifying that she has not lost touch with her human emotional side. She then also goes to meet with Keya Dhawan, who has been kept in a safehouse by The Charter. Stone reveals that she has returned to working with The Charter, but only after getting confirmation from them that less reliance would be given to The Heart and that it should be treated only as a computer that can help in operations and not as the decision-maker. Stone then also reveals that she intends to make Dhawan a part of the Hearts team in the Charter, and Heart of Stone ends with a brief scene of Dhawan and Stone taking on a new mission for the Charter together.