Reviews: Gal Gadot stars in ‘Heart of Stone’ and more

This week’s hottest streaming movie

Netflix’s “Heart of stone” gives a small but noticeable twist to the global spy thriller by having Gal Gadot play a super spy who goes covert within a year different Team of super spies. Gadot is Rachel Stone, introduced at the beginning of the film as a low-level MI6 agent: the kind of agent who “stays in the van” and handles communications while her teammates are on the road, risking their lives.

Stone secretly works for a shadowy organization called Charter, made up of some of the world’s most experienced agents, tasked with minimizing the loss of life through missions overseen by an AI tool called Heart. Stone is to keep an eye on her MI6 crew; But their charter orders change when the heart is stolen by Keya Dhawan (Alia Bhatt), a zealot who believes it is a dangerous device.

In the broad spectrum of Netflix original action films, Heart of Stone falls just above average. Director Tom Harper is a seasoned professional with notable roles in both film (“The Aeronauts”) and television (“Peaky Blinders”). He gets sympathetically laid-back performances from Gadot’s supporting cast, which include Sophie Okonedo as her no-nonsense charter boss Nomad, Matthias Schweighöfer as Charter’s soft-rock-loving tech genius “Jack of Hearts,” and the ever-charming Jamie Dornan as Stone’s most likable man MI6 -Team member Parker. Greg Ruska and Allison Schroeder’s script has a pretty good twist, and Harper seemed to have a decent budget to work with given the variety of European locations.

But the effects-heavy action sequences still look cheesy compared to “Mission: Impossible” and “John Wick” – and too much of “Heart of Stone” is eaten up by the scenes where Stone and her colleagues whiz around driving their vehicles through crowded streets or make impossible jumps from very high places. The slam bang stuff in this picture is too tedious and routine. The film is much better when it gets philosophical and reflects on a world where everyone is watching everyone else but no one can agree on how to use that information to keep us all safe.

‘Heart of stone.’ Rated PG-13 for violent and action sequences and some speech. 2 hours, 5 minutes. Available on Netflix

The best documentary to stream this week

Before becoming popular hip-hop artist Biz Markie, Marcel Theo Hall was raised as an orphan on Long Island, moving from town to town, lounging on couches and befriending seemingly every future rap legend in the area. In Sacha Jenkins’ vividly entertaining, life-affirming documentary “All Up in the Business” Some of the people who knew Biz as a teenager — including Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, the members of De La Soul and more — share funny stories about how he was just always there, making everyone laugh with his absurd boasts and weird dancing and Beatbox Skills. They also say that whenever they tried to be honest with Biz about his past, he changed the subject. He preferred to maintain a good mood.

Jenkins follows Biz’ example. He can’t really get to the bottom of Biz Markie’s personal life, so he just tells endearing anecdotes and puts them in the context of hip-hop’s creative boom in the late ’80s. Even as Jenkins breaks the news of the rapper’s death in 2021, he’s recreating the past few days by placing an adorable-looking doll on a hospital bed. For the rest of the film, Jenkins uses animation, vintage clips, and plenty of interviews to recreate the entire Biz Markie experience: the raspy voice, the deadbeat vocals, and the love of everything cheesy, catchy, and fun.

All Up in the Biz tackles some thorny issues, including how a lawsuit over an unsolved sample by Gilbert O’Sullivan caused Biz to go from being a recording artist to a goofy, willing celebrity. But even then, he embraced his opportunities, whether it was DJing at parties or appearing for a scene in Men in Black II. The story of Biz Markie is not presented here as a tragedy. It’s a tribute to a loveable weirdo who made people happy.

“All Up in the Biz.” Unrated. 1 hour 40 minutes. Available on Paramount+ / Showtime

Blu-ray of the week

When director William Friedkin passed away last week, obituaries and tributes focused primarily on his Oscar-nominated 1970s blockbusters The French Connection and The Exorcist. But Friedkin has continued to produce important works throughout his career – including the incredibly entertaining, no-holds-barred crime film from 1985 “Live and Die in LA” William Petersen and John Pankow play Secret Service agents trying to bring down a skilled counterfeiter (played by Willem Dafoe) by committing crimes themselves. Working with cinematographer Robby Müller, Friedkin brings to the screen a Los Angeles that is both glamorous and gritty in equal measure, in which even the palm tree in the film’s logo looks like a gunshot wound.

The car chases are gripping, the characters complex, and the driving, twisting storyline (co-written by Friedkin and Gerald Petievich) doubles as a shattering of the ’80s obsessions with wealth and power. To Live and Die in LA isn’t currently available to stream, but the latest Blu-ray edition – which released a few weeks ago – is the best way to watch the film anyway. It includes a new 4K remaster, as well as a Friedkin candid commentary track and over an hour of behind-the-scenes interviews and featurettes.

“To Live and Die in LA” KL Studio Classics Blu-ray

Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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