Heart of Stone15
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It’s unlikely that companies such as Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent would agree however with cheaper knock-offs of their products widely available in the market place.
Films have their own imitators, with one franchise in particular being the subject of various cinematic ‘homages’: James Bond.
The latest comes in the form of this Gal Gadot vehicle, which isn’t exactly subtle when it comes to its influences.
Out in the field are a group of MI6 agents, including their IT consultant Rachel Stone (Gadot), who monitors the mission remotely from a nearby van. But when the mission doesn’t go to plan, Rachel finds herself having to leave the confines of the van, and get her hands dirty in the field.
And to be fair to her, she handles the situation well, although the scenario soon escalates with Rachel going off on her own. It transpires that there is more to Rachel than meets the eye; apparently she is an agent for the mysterious Charter, who utilise a system known as ‘The Heart’, which has the ability to calculate the severity of danger in any given situation, and use it to determine the biggest threats on the planet.
What neither MI6 nor Charter are aware of however, is that a nefarious group have their eye on what they consider the ultimate weapon, and will stop at nothing to have it in their grasps. The weapon? Only ‘The Heart’ itself.
British director Tom Harper hasn’t really flexed his action prowess with his previous titles, that includes The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, Wild Rose and The Aeronauts, but he more than makes up for it now, in this out and out Bond clone.
It ticks a lot of the boxes too, from the its many exotic locales, to its extensive chase scenes, which will definitely serve the director well as a marker for any future Bond title.
And you would think that the perfect woman to play a Bond figure would be Wonder Woman herself, but sadly that isn’t the case. The problem is, her character Stone has been written unapologetically as a female Bond, even down to 007’s dry, British sense of humour. Unfortunately Gadot doesn’t pull it off, with her efforts coming across as all too flat. This isn’t all her fault, as she’s merely doing as she’s told, which is essentially to be a female Bond. What they should have done is try to develop a female spy character from the ground up, making her unique in every way from Bond, or any other male spy character, in much the same way that Lara Croft has the DNA of Indiana Jones, but still is very much her own character.
There’s no denying that Gadot pulls off the physicality of the role, but the lack of any personality makes everything about this film disappointingly generic. Which is a real shame, as it has a genuinely interesting twist in it, which Harper handles really well, and even its standard plot narrative could have been forgiven if Gadot’s character had a little sparkle.
She isn’t helped by the Bond clone characters the film also features, with its equivalent of M and Q, played respectively by Sophie Okonedo and Matthias Schweighöfer. It is a scenario that is all too familiar, becoming borderline parody over being a homage.
Heart of Stone then is certainly a film that had bags of potential, and sadly wastes nearly every ounce of it. It just goes to prove how incredibly well made the Bond films are, and imitating them well is by no means an easy feat.
And whereas the name Bond will live on in film history, the name Stone will be as quickly forgotten as the film title it appears in, and there’s nothing flattering about that.