on March 29, 2004
Arguably Sylvester Stallone's last box office hit (unless you count Cop Land), The Specialist is not the typical Stallone testosterone fest. In fact, it remains a fairly atmospheric thriller revolving around obsession and revenge. But it's not as interesting as it may sound, thanks to the generally lackluster script and mostly unlikeable characters.
Stallone plays Ray Quick, an ex-bomb specialist who works for hire. After the movie's requisite prologue, he's in Miami working for May Munro (Sharon Stone), who wants him to kill three mobsters, especially the head mobster's son, Tomas (Eric Roberts), because they murdered her parents when she was a little girl. Quick contacts her only by phone, they are to never meet, but he's admittedly intrigued by her and vice versa. However, she's actually working for Ned Trent (James Woods), Quick's former colleague who's out for revenge.
Action fans expecting bombastic and over-the-top action sequences should steer clear, this movie will be too sluggish for them. The Specialist has no desire to function as a typical Stallone actioner. There are no large-scale gun battles, fisticuffs, or car chases. In fact, I gather Stallone received the role purely on the basis of his box office clout (and perhaps also his ability to brood and act generally depressed fairly well).
So what is The Specialist, then? Is it a thriller? Yeah, sort of, there are a few suspenseful moments, mostly pertaining to Stallone using his bombs to knock off the mobsters. Surprisingly enough, the twist of having the hero kill the bad guys with explosives (Speed and Blown away came out the same year) works well enough, mostly because the villains' impending doom bears a certain inevitability that plays to the movie's advantage.
But there's little else about the movie worth recommending. The story doesn't make much sense; as soon as it's revealed Roberts' murdered Stone's parents when she was a child, I scratched my head in confusion. He couldn't possibly be more than a year or two older than Stone, meaning he committed the murders when he was about, what, ten or eleven? More likely, it appears the filmmakers are trying to pass off Stone as a twenty-year old bombshell. Sure, Stone looks great (and I do mean great) in this film, but she can't even pass for thirty.
The romance is unsurprisingly perfunctory and generic. As soon as the hero and heroine meet, they almost immediately tear their clothes off and go at it. This is neither romantic nor sexy, even with the undeniably hot Sharon Stone as part of this tryst. I've always kind of liked Stallone, subpar an actor as he may be. He's always had a fairly commandable screen presence, though he has yet to translate that to genuine charisma (which is what puts him considerably behind that other big lug, Arnold Scwarzenegger).
Neither suspenseful nor exciting enough to recommend, The Specialist is of little interest to anyone except for Stallone and Stone fans (and maybe James Wood fans, who will either delight or wince at his maniacally over-the-top performance). I'm still waiting for Stallone to revive his career with a big-budget action blockbuster, but I don't see it happening. Hey, I'm one of the few guys out there who actually liked D-Tox, so I wouldn't necessarily say his career has gone down the drain.
* 1/2 out of *****
on September 20, 2003
Most big budget big star films that come under heavy critical panning usually contain ludicrous acting on the parts of the big stars and a heavy reliance on special effects. I can see why THE SPECIALIST is now included in that group. Sylvester Stallone has rarely been as buff as he is in the role of Ray Quick, an ex-CIA bomb specialist who has been hired as a bomb hit man to kill some thugs headed by Rod Steiger and Eric Roberts. Stallone is as stone-faced as ever as he judiciously places small but powerful explosives to kill his victims. Stallone as Quick sleepwalks through his screen time, but as I watched this movie for the third time, I realized that the movie that I saw was exactly the one that director Luis LLosa wanted: a paen to the power and destructive force of matchbook sized bombs. Clearly, LLosa did not want anyone to take seriously the tale of a hired bomber who could kill in the hundreds and not arouse world wide attention. There are so many explosions that each one works metaphorically to eradicate any serious consideration of a plot that has as much weight as one of Quick's plastic explosives. The focus is less on Quick, but more on his supporting cast, Sharon Stone as the revenge-seeking woman who hires him and James Woods as the former CIA teacher spook who taught Quick all he knows about bombs. Miss Stone is the leggy female counterpart to a Stallone whose primary acting skill is to grimace as if he expects a hook from Apollo Creed at any moment. Stone walks around for most of her screen time in mini skirts while Stallone shows off his equally impressive pecs. Yet, despite their physical symmetry, their screen chemistry barely registers on the cinematic Richter scale. What keeps the film going is a balance between the incredible explosions (one of which allows a hotel floor to disengage itself from its structural base) and the superb acting of James Woods, who seems to be working as some kind of CIA spook with authority over the local police but is really on the pad of a crime boss, played shrilly by a balding Rod Steiger, who is guilty of badly overacting. Woods does what he can to keep the disparate elements of an off-balanced movie like this one on track. To his credit, he manages to give more than a note of authenticity even to the scenes that defy logic and analysis. The relationship between Woods and Stallone on a reverse-buddy level is far more of note that the hoped for sexual sizzle between Stallone and Stone. Essentially, THE SPECIALIST is predator prey film with Woods hunting Stallone, but the boundaries between the hunter and the hunted soon often blur. Watching a film like this is a perversely enjoyable experience. One does not expect any great statements about the Twisted Meaning of Life, but in the male bonding arena, nobody can top James Woods with his ability to make the audience feel the nervous agida as he closes in on his target. Stallone, however, has never learned how to react when he is outside of the squared circle, but in THE SPECIALIST, I did not really care about that.
on March 8, 2003
This movie I could not wait to see. The very day it came out I plunked down my money and sat in a theater and watched one of the worst movies ever made.
Well first i'll go over the "plot". Stallone plays Ray Quick a demolitions expert who is hired be Sharon Stone to kill a mob family that she has infultrated. The family killed her family years ago (just how many times are we going to have to have this same plot). Eric Roberts plays Stone's boyfriend/mob bosses son/patsy. Rod Steiger plays the family monarch and resident bad guy. James Woods is Ned Trent a crooked cop who Quick had issues with when they were both in the army.
This movie opens up in the middle and tries to tell the story in both flashbacks and present time format. All this dose is give you a real lost feeling right off the bat. All the actors are heavy hitters with Oscar nominations to thier credit but this is one of the missteps that even the best make. The only bright spot in this entire mess is Woods. Even with a bad script and foolish lines he still, somwhow, pulls the role off with flair and humor that, unlike the rest of the movie, was intended. This movie should just be forgotten as quickly as possable...
on January 17, 2003
Although this film has been trashed by the media, it is not as bad as some will say, it does have some interesting characters, In this Stallone is a former CIA explosives expert who is hired by Stone to secretly kill off the mobsters who killed her parents when she was a child, James Woods is at his usual best here as Stallone's former CIA partner who is in cahoots with these mobsters, you can tell Woods had fun here in this role, Eric Roberts is chilling here as one of the mobsters who Stone is wanting killed, this movie gives much depth to its stars, Stallone, Stone, & Woods are NOT one-dimentional as some would say, we feel Stone's anger & sorrow for her parents, & we understand Stallone's calm & collective demeanor as he follows Stone in an effort to understand her intensions as any former CIA agent might do, & we understand Woods' intent, although not action-packed to the extreme, it was never meant to be,but does have big explosions, the hotel room explosion has to be seen to be believed, set in Miami, the scenery is nice to look at, as is Stone who doesn't look as good now, but this film is good if you want character substance, but if you are looking for non-stop action, you will be disappointed!!
on February 27, 2002
The story of this movie is the following:
The parents of May (Sharon Stone) where killed before her eyes while she was a child. After many years she still could not thru these terrible memories out of her mind. Night horrors were eating her up. Specially, due to the fact that she remembered the names and faces of the killers. Finally, she decided to hire a bomb specialist who would assassinate the killers, members of the Miami drug syndicate. This bomb specialist, Ray (Sylvester Stallone), a former CIA agent, did not want to take a job in the beginning. He stared following May everywhere in order to understand her motives. After a while Ray felled in love with May; he saw that these criminals were really bad guys, and eventually called May and agreed to tale the job. If you want to know the end of the story, you should watch the movie.
What I liked the most about this movie is a beautiful and touching relationship between Ray (Sylvester Stallone) and May (Sharon Stone). They quickly felled in love with each other while speaking by phone.
Every character in this film was extremely well developed. All cast was precisely selected. Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone looked really great together! This couple was ideally chosen! The acting was superb by all of the actors, especially by Sharon Stone. This film also has a great music you will not forget as well as great shots of Miami.
There are not too many actions here. But it is a great thriller, and it is a beautiful love story. If you did not see it yet, you certainly should see it. Do not trust to anyone's opinion. Check it up yourself like I did.
on September 24, 2001
Wayyyy too much narcisim for one boy to take!!!
Holey Moley!!! AND it had Sharon Stone AND the brilliant James Woods to boot!!!
Plus Ms Stone... was showing her wares... although if it were a hot summer night in my house... I'd rather you didn't put your thong covered botty on my leather suite - Thank you very much.... Yech.... that's gonna leave a sweat mark!?!
And the water the two of you wasted in that shower scene getting into just the right pose?
Tut, tut!!! Think of the enviroment!!!
HEY: Does body oil solidify and block the drains like chip fat does???
All joking aside now:
I was very dissappointed in the 3 of you!!!
Cos you all had farrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr more going for you than this!!!
Stallone where was the humility of Rocky or even Demolition Man?
Sharon what happened to the shy, repressed sexuality of Sliver???
What was it again that I liked you in Mr Woods??? Been a while...
on February 3, 2001
This movie really isn't as bad as some people will have you believe. It's far from being Sly's best, but together with "Cliffhanger" and "Copland", it's actually one of his most effective from the 90s. (-Let's face it, the others he did that decade were pretty... most of them, and his best movies are all from the 70s and 80s.) Don't make the mistake to judge Stallone-the-actor by this film; he's a much better actor than this movie tries to trick you into believing, he just needs better material to chew on. -"The Specialist" almost reduces him to merely some kind of a silent robot, literally sleepwalking through the scenery following Stone around. But for some strange reason the movie still works. Except for one brief scene. -The silly fight on the bus; it's totally out of place, and seem tacked on just for the sake of it. (-I'm pretty sure it was, actually.) Come to think of it, the erotic scenes between the two stars are also quite un-necessary, and only there to make those with cheap minds drool. Woods is his good old manic self, but the character he plays is so ridiculous and over the top it ends up being utterly unbelievable. Steiger is very good as the old mobster, but the way I see it, Roberts is the one who steals the show. Many actors don't improve with age, in fact many get worse as they get older, but Roberts seems to be the kind of actor that just gets better and better. He's so deliciously slimy here that without him the picture just drags, and you almost miss the dirty rotten scoundrel when he's not around. It's a good part, but sadly somewhat too small. The DVD looks great, and the trailer includes clips from shots not in the final film, like Stone slapping Steiger and the b/w flashback scenes in color.
on September 18, 1999
For a film to have so many decent and respected names in it, it still manages to be disappointing. The plot is paper-thin, and as I understand it, Stallone had too much clout in altering the dramatic impact of the movie. I refer to two scenes in particular- the first fight with Woods where Stallone insisted that his character won ( just for a change ) thus diminishing the final come-uppance for the Woods character at the end of the film, and secondly the gratuitous bus scene where Stallone ( just for a change ) single-handedly sorts out some punks on a bus. Apparently the scene was added at Stallone's insistence, just to make him look heroic ( just for a ... well you get the picture ! ) Anyway the film is stolen by James Woods as usual, who probably could have done this film in his sleep! Jimmy is obviously enjoying himself with various little ad-libs ( 'Get a new shirt ! ) and is probably the only one on the set who realised just how daft the whole thing was. Stone looks edible as usual, but her role is little more than eye-candy despite her character supposedly being central to the plot. The true horror of the movie however is Rod Steiger's accent! What the hell has happened to this once great actor? I have seen less ham at the local meat market! His scenes with Woods show a once great actor being acted off the screen by another who needed the money to pay the rent. ' Chew find him!' Chew? The only chewing was Woods chewing up the scenery and walking off with the movie. I first saw the film at the cinema and the audience was bored with a large proportion of it, but every time Jimmy appeared, they all sat up, attentive again, because they knew SOMETHING was going to happen. The film isn't that bad for a Saturday night with a six-pack and a pizza, but as my school reports used to read- ' Could do much better '
on August 11, 1999
Well, let's see. Just off the top of my head, here are some of the features of this turkey. Sly Stallone mumbles so badly that only about 5% of his dialogue is intelligible (though this is probably a plus, given the quality of the writing).Sharon Stone is nice to look at but her acting starts off bad and gets worse in a hurry. Her character is so unlikeable I cheered up when Woods slapped her around. Rod Steiger's accent, which I believe is supposed to be Cuban because he pronounces "you" as "chew" a la Scarface, comes and goes. James Woods plays a parody of himself (this was actually the most entertaining thing about the movie). They show Sly working out, and all he does are ballet-like stretches to show off his bod, and it was not a pretty sight. He is so over-pumped that there are alarmingly bulging veins on every inch of his body visible. Stone and Stallone (has a nice ring to it, huh?) have no chemistry--during their big sex scene, they look extremely bored instead of aroused, as if they are about to doze off but the only thing keeping them awake is to make sure their buff bodies are displayed carefully so they look their best on camera. Continuity is terrible-Sly's character adopts a fluffy grey kitty, which I guess is supposed to make him sensitive (I was just worried he'd crush it accidentally) but in a scene towards the end, the cat is dark brown. I give a grudging point towards the kitty not being killed by the Columbians or Woods--the one thing that I didn't see coming, because every time Sly came home looking for his cat I expected him to find it nailed to the wall or something equally hideous. Woods does have a great scene (a couple, really) where he does a little trick with a pen and some plastique to frighten his office staff. I also laughed at the way he'd constantly be yelling "Shut up!" to characters who hadn't even said anything yet.The movie is, I have to admit, one of those that is so bad, it would qualify as one of those 'love to hate it' movies that you sit around with your friends with to watch and make fun of. Worth renting if 1. you are a Woods fan and find him entertaining in any movie no matter how terrible it is or 2. you have a free rental coming at the video store (or both of the above, like me). If you can't stand all three of the principal stars, skip it by all means. 3 stars-2 for Woods, one for the "movie so bad it's good" factor.
on June 3, 2002
Ray Quick (lordage Sylvester Stallone) is a veteran specialist who now assassinates people for money. His newest mission requires to bump off the murderers who took away May Munro's (Sharon Stone) parents. This is a taut film that will have you sweating. High fever! The chemistry that Stallone and Stone have is remarkable and will leave you thirsty. I must've drank ten sodas. Hyper! Quick gets each man one-by-one and finishes off Timayo (excellent name) played by Eric Roberts. Even when the movie doesn't involve his mission, Quick fights a couple of punks on a bus and causes tax money to be spent on a broken window. Shattering! Rod Steiger is the father of Timayo and James Woods (who is always an evil genius) plays a trigger man who used to set off Quick's bombs. This movie will leave you exhausted, but wanting more? You say 'no', but I say 'YES'! Immortal genius to the maximum.