The spy-action genre of movies is already filled with a ridiculously high number of entries; therefore, for newer releases to even have a chance at staying relevant, an out-of-the-box element is required. The recently released Netflix spy caper Heart Of Stone strictly follows the copybook method of building and resolving intrigue and, as a result, refrains from venturing into riskier territory. Revolving around a secret espionage agency and an overpowered AI tool that could be the key to world domination, the movie treads a very familiar track throughout. With that being said, narrative structure-wise, the easily discernible similarities allow viewers to point out a number of movies and series it has taken inspiration from, a lot of which we think you might enjoy if you liked Heart Of Stone.
Mission: Impossible (1996)
Right from the nature of its espionage agency to several key plot points, Heart Of Stone has derived heavily from the Tom Cruise-starrer spy movie series Mission Impossible and especially from the very first movie of the said franchise. Ethan Hunt represents IMF (Impossible Mission Force), the super secret spy organization in the MI franchise that operates from the shadows, staying unknown even to international intelligence organizations like the CIA and MI6, while getting involved in high-stakes global operations. Similarly, in Heart Of Stone, Rachel Stone is a member of the secretive agency named Charter, which was constituted by a group of high-ranking intelligence officials, and the autonomous agency itself doesn’t adhere to any singular political or national leaning. Almost like the IMF, the Charter’s anonymity has become an urban legend—to such an extent that even active MI6 members don’t believe in its existence.
The first time Ethan Hunt was approached by the IMF was during a period when he was at his lowest point and had nowhere to turn; similarly, viewers get to know Rachel Stone’s troublesome past had left her in a precarious situation with the proverbial walls closing in on her, and it was during that time that she was approached by Nomad, the King of Hearts’ division of the Charter. Aside from that, the mole in the team is another spy movie trope that was popularized in Mission: Impossible in a dramatic fashion. Ethan’s first IMF mission gets sabotaged, and all his team members get killed when his mentor and IMF team leader, Jim Phelps, betrays the team for his ulterior motive. Heart Of Stone nearly mimics the entire structure, first by establishing the working relationship between Rachel and her MI6 associates, then by revealing Parker to be the mole who kills Yang and Bailey and injects a trojan biochip inside Rachel to fulfill his ulterior motive. However, the effect on the audience of the surprise revelation is the polar opposite when we compare the two movies.
Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)
The similarities Heart Of Stone shares with the MI franchise go beyond a single movie, as is evident from the most recent entry of the MI series Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, where Ethan Hunt goes against a sentient, rogue AI known as ‘Entity.’ Although neither sentient nor rogue, Heart Of Stone has the omnipresent AI known as ‘Heart,’ which allows the spy agency Charter to even out the worst odds. The situation goes south when rogue MI6 agent Parker and his brilliant techie associate, Keya Dhawan, decide to go after the Heart for their ulterior motivation. Just like the destructive potential of the entity was shown in the opening scene of Dead Reckoning, where it manipulated the digital defense mainframe of a Russian submarine and destroyed it, Parker used the Heart to decimate the Kings of the two divisions of Charter, which also resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians as well. The thematic similarity of critiquing the overdependence on technological advancements is also present in both of these movies, along with the common McGuffin.
Furthermore, Keya Dhawan’s character arc in Heart Of Stone resembles Grace’s arc in Dead Reckoning, as both the skillful crooks find themselves initially at odds with the lead, presented with undeveloped backstory, but soon find themselves to be out of depth in the brutal, violent world they have been pitted against, reconsider their life choices, and are given a chance by the lead to begin their lives anew by joining their respective secret agencies.
No discussion about spy movie recommendations will ever be complete without mentioning the most iconic one. As a James Bond movie, Skyfall ranks among the very best ones, and the thematic resonance of it is present in Heart of Stone as well. In Skyfall, Bond finds his opponent in ex-MI6 agent Raoul Silva, who is out to get his revenge on MI6 chief M for betraying and disavowing him during a mission gone bad, which led to him getting tortured by the Chinese government. Even though Silva protected the confidential intel of MI6, he was treated as merely an expandable asset by his chief and government, which set him on a justified track toward seeking vengeance. In Heart of Stone, the rogue MI6 Agent Parker was similarly duped by both MI6 and Charter, as the sacrifice of his and his comrades was simply pushed into ignominy under the red tape. As a result, he became hell-bent on taking down the Charter and was partially successful as he killed the two Charter division leads, King of Diamonds and King of Clubs.
Person of Interest (2011)
If AI is the topic you have started to get invested in after seeing Heart of Stone, you might want to check out the mystery thriller series Person of Interest (2011-2016) which heavily deals with the subject matter. The series revolves around the creation of an all-powerful AI named ‘The Machine’ that gains sentience and seeks to protect itself while also usings its advanced algorithm to assist the government to identify possible threats even before commencement of criminal activities. The creator of ‘The Machine,’ along with a bunch of other do-gooders, face increasingly challenging threats from people who seek to weaponize the AI, which ultimately leads to the creation of another AI named ‘Samaritan’ with a more violent, extremist thought process. If the capabilities of ‘Heart’ impressed you, surely the in-depth analysis of AI functionality and even the moral, ethical considerations regarding the subject discussed in Person of Interest will hook you right in.
The last entry might come as the most surprising in the entire list, and although the more supernatural nature of the series might feel at odds with the grounded tone of a spy thriller, we would like to point out some common factors Heart of Stone shares with this hit HBO Max series based on DC comics. Peacemaker revolves around a covert government agency (Task Force X) chief, Amanda Waller, who tasks four of its agents with uncovering an alien infiltration conspiracy. The dynamic among the team members, albeit initially shaky and distrusting, gradually turns into an almost familial bond, which is put to the test when one of the members turns out to be a mole. Aside from this, Amanda Waller acting as the representative of the USA government that exploits its service providers and disavows them at the first sign of trouble, is pretty on point with real-life corrupt bureaucracy and matches the theme touched upon in Heart of Stone.