Ray Quick is a bomb expert who worked for the CIA along with a guy named Ned Trent, who's extremely demented. When they have a falling out, Ray becomes a freelancer who lives off the grid. A woman named May Munro contacts and wants him to kill the three men who killed her family years ago, who work for the Leon crime family. Ray does it and after killing the first one, the Leons need to find the one who did it and it turns out Ned is now working for them and they task him with finding the bomber. The Leons get him to work with the police and he looks for the bomber. In the meantime Ray, while working on getting the others, can't help but follow May wherever she goes. Written by
Mediocre revenge thriller made watchable by Woods's performance and John Barry's score
The best thing about The Specialist is the performance of James Woods, who really sinks his teeth into his villainous role and is enormously entertaining. What he also does that is good is making his material more interesting than it deserved to be, much has been said about the scene with the shirt and for good reason. Eric Roberts is pretty good also, he doesn't have anywhere near as much to do and his character is rather one-note but somehow Roberts does bring some intensity and menace whenever he appears. The scenery is lovely too, the sex scene was appropriately steamy and John Barry's score is the other of the two assets most worth noting about The Specialist. Barry was one of the all-time great film composers and I have yet to hear a bad score from him, and the music for The Specialist has his typical lushness, beautiful harmonic writing and moodiness, these things may seem out of place for a film such as this but actually it works. Unfortunately very little else works. Sylvester Stallone is not the best of actors but as an action star he showed great charisma. Here he is very wooden and mumbles his way through his lines. Sharon Stone also flounders, Stone has shown she can be good(she is brilliant in Casino) but she does look awkward and there is the sense that her heart wasn't really in it, which makes her character's predicament difficult to engage with. Regarding the chemistry between them too, the only time where it works is in the sex scene, everywhere else you'll struggle to find any kind of passion. Coming off worst was Rod Steiger, giving a performance so embarrassingly over-the-top it was like watching a cartoon, which was completely out of kilter with the rest of the film. The characters have no real depth and personality, the most colourful character was James Woods's and his performance itself has a lot to do with it. The dialogue has its moments, all of which with Woods again, but on the most part it's very weak, often lacking sense and flow and often aimless with far too much talk. Story-wise, the lack of originality concept-wise can be forgiven(revenge thrillers often have that but it's not always a bad thing) but for it to be plodding, laughably implausible and at times incoherent is less forgivable, as well as parts being so predictable any suspense and tension is severely diluted and having parts that have little to no relevance. Other than revenge, you don't have a clear idea as to what the heroine's motivations are. The action sequences lack any kind of momentum or excitement and just looks so awkwardly staged and passionless, a few are so ridiculous that it brings unintentional laughter. The direction is flat and with the vibe that he didn't know how to direct a thriller, and visually only the scenery really impresses, some of the colours are nice but others are garish and the film in terms of photography and editing does often look like direct-to-video quality. Overall, Woods, the shirt scene and the score are great, Roberts, the sex scene and scenery are good but the script, story, leads and Steiger are just bad and the film on the whole is mediocre. 4/10 Bethany Cox
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