Heart of Stone is the Tomb Raider (2001) of the Netflix era. A visually well-produced action movie on the surface, but both suffering from a weak script falling prey to lackluster characterization, mundane stakes, and lousy dialogue. The star power of their respective heroines invites at least a glancing purview. The difference is Tomb Raider is a mediocre film you would have had to pay to see in theaters. Heart of Stone is a mediocre film that is essentially a TV movie; thus, should we lower our expectations since the only effort required is a couple of clicks on your Netflix app?

The plot, or what the filmmakers are calling ‘the plot’, is an amalgamation of about ten different spy movies jammed together. Director Tom Harper and company have obviously seen Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossible (1996), as the film mostly resembles the structure of the Tom Cruise blockbuster, but with a fraction of the heart pumping intensity. Heart of Stone revolves around superspy Rachel Stone (World-respected actor Gal Gadot). Stone is an undercover agent whose mission is to bring forth a valuable arms dealer – but the endeavor goes sideways, and it isn’t readily apparent who’s at fault. Stone remains steadfast in finding who is compromising the agency but soon discovers she’s become tangled in a web of lies, secrets, and revenge.

The film’s biggest sin is being a basic, by the numbers action movie, but it’s never terrible. The movie is well shot, and the action is silly but fun. Among the visual stamps is a thrilling scene in the snowy Alps, where Stone activates a parachute and practically jet skis with it. The characterization isn’t a work of art, but these characters at least seem like they’ve met each other before and are believable as a friend group. As the protagonists traverse the globe, from one dimly lit apartment to the next, they mimic the familiarity of a traveling band.

However, the acting and shallow writing means the characters never truly achieve 3 dimensions. That issue starts with the star. There’s a moment where the characters begin dancing to Lizzo’s Juice, and a frivolous dance number is the perfect opportunity for a movie star to steal an easy scene. Gadot can’t do it, even when spotlighted. Her sense of improv, physical charisma, and comedic timing just aren’t very present, and the scene is a mulligan because of it.

Later, during a key dramatic scene, Stone relays a critical flaw: “I can’t connect.” You can say that again, as the character inadvertently outs the actor’s biggest issue in this movie. Gadot is a nice complimentary star, but her limited acting range makes it difficult for her to pull in viewers as the lead character. This is a movie full of AI jargon and technological Macguffins; it’s as artificial and superficial as a plot gets, but Heart of Stone is missing a human soul for the audience to connect to. Gadot is too rigid, too aestically perfect, too lacking in vulnerability or humor to land this plane. Doesn’t help that her co-star, Jamie Dornan, is another aesthetically pleasing star who seemingly lacks the energy to bring his characters and stories fully to life. They’re weirdly made for each other, but predictably have zero chemistry.

It becomes an issue of emoting, and the stars who can and can’t do it. One who can is Alia Blatt, who is the true standout in this movie, as Keya Dhawan – a mysterious hacker who is actively the hero’s foil. Blatt was first seen by much of the western audience in last year’s RRR (2012), but has a decorated career that likely makes her the most qualified and personable actor on the call sheet. As a result, Keya is the only character with a pulse in the movie, reminding us of what a human being may sound like.

Matthias Schweighöfer pops in from time to time as the codename Jack of Hearts. He fails to register a single memorable line, I can’t recall a syllable. He comes off as a cliche offshoot of Q from James Bond. His appearance is a cross between Macklemore, Mark Zuckerberg, and Carrot Top, yet still fails to register a screen presence. But I must emphasize that the screenplay is doing Schweighöfer and everyone else no favors. Least of which are the codenames, themed after the movie title’s play on Queen of Hearts. Like, it’s cute that they’re really going for this blackjack metaphor. But after the 6th character that was introduced to me with some card name in place of their government name, I just thought “I hope you all enjoyed writing this gimmick because I wasn’t going to remember your name anyway.”

Which brings us back to the movie’s “Nine of Hearts,” Rachel Stone, who everyone in this movie adores, which is a reflection of how the filmmakers want us to feel. Even the bad guys aren’t that mad at her. Everyone wants to be her friend, and she might have averted a global disaster because of it, as the supporting characters fall over themselves to make sure Rachel Stone stays winning. We’ve heard of people exhibiting main character syndrome – well these glorified NPCs have the disease not for themselves, but FOR Rachel Stone as they repeatedly put their lives on the line so Rachel (and only Rachel) can have a better chance of survival. We’ve just been ambushed and are in a shootout for our lives? Let’s make sure we announce aloud that it’s imperative that Rachel escape, even if the rest of us die. Only the Secret Service has put their lives in more danger for the well-being of one person.

I can’t say I’d jump in front of a bullet for Rachel Stone, but I didn’t hate watching her movie. It is not very good, to be clear, but it’s nice to look at as mid-budget action movies go. Unlike some past Netflix movies, it doesn’t look like it was filmed in a parking lot or a driveway. The special effects are… pretty decent for a movie that’s straight to streaming. The hand to hand combat could be better… a lot better, and that’s the biggest reason the action here never builds any momentum. The characters are flat and boring, exhibiting shallow characterization, which makes it that much more difficult for a couple of stars who already struggle to relate to an audience. Or perhaps they’re flatly written because the filmmakers know the actors have limited range, so they don’t want to extend them too much. Whatever the answer, it results in a movie you’ll never need to see in your life. But it’s one you may not hate if it’s on. Or put it on when you make dinner or play a card game in the background. I promise the dialogue will never catch yours or anyone else’s attention, not a single word.