The Specialist is the tale of three movies: Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone are in one (average film); James Woods in another (an over-the-top but fun one); and Rod Steiger, with help by Mr. Camp himself Eric Roberts (in a bad film) who seemed to be on a different page from everybody else. As a whole, this is an uneven movie with poor pacing for the first two-thirds and it wasn’t until the action-packed finale that things come together.
Genre(s): Action, Suspense/Thriller
Warner Bros. | R – 110 min. – $19.99 | August 16, 2011
Directed by: Luis Llosa
Writer(s): Alexandra Seros (written by)
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, James Woods, Rod Steiger, Eric Roberts
Theatrical Release Date: October 7, 1994
Features: Theatrical Trailer
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 2.0/5
Plot (Blu-ray back cover): May Munro (SHARON STONE) is a drop-dead beauty with a fatal past. She’s sworn death to the mobsters who murdered her parents and she also knows the right man for the job: ex-CIA explosives expert Ray Quick (SYLVESTER STALLONE). Miami’s playground of the rich becomes an incendiary slayground as May lures the killers and Ray ingeniously detonates them into ashes. But a vicious mob boss (ROD STEIGER), his brash son (ERIC ROBERTS) and a psychotic hired gun (JAMES WOODS) with a lethal grudge against Quick won’t go without a fight. And the feverish passions shared by the two avengers can’t hide an ominous question from Ray. Is May falling for him… or is she setting him up too?
There’s nothing more fascinating in cinema than Sylvester Stallone in the early/mid 1990s, reason being it was a transition period from his ‘80s action flicks to a time with a balance between action and drama. With The Specialist, Stallone teamed up with sexpot Sharon Stone who was coming off of her 1992 erotic classic, Basic Instinct and veteran journeyman James Woods as the clichéd, though still great fun, over-the-top villain with a vendetta.
For his part, Stallone tries to bring some dramatic depth to his character but the plot and, especially, the pacing for the film was so off that it never quite built any sort of momentum until towards the end at which point it was too late. Then you add a truly awful, albeit laughably so, performance by Rod Steiger with a ridiculous accent and you have a film that didn’t know if it wanted to be action-centric, dramatic or comedic.
I will say that the only saving grace for The Specialist is James Woods. As I said before, he’s way over the top especially in a key scene where he matches wits with Stallone about half way through but it’s so damn fun that I wish Stallone, Stone and the others took note which would’ve made this a fun movie instead of one with a predictable plot, even with the “twists”, and monotone acting from its two leads.
The Specialist was directed by Luis Llosa who helmed Sniper the year before and Anaconda in 1997, not exactly a stellar resume. It was written by Alexandra Seros, the writer behind Point of No Return but she has no credits to her name since 1994.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0.5/5
The only thing we get is the Theatrical Trailer (1:58; SD).
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Presented with a MPEG-4 AVC codec and 1080p high-def transfer, The Specialist looks decent in HD though it’s a little uneven at times. First, the daylight scenes look the best with some good detail levels but at times it does look a tad… splotchy or muddy. I don’t think this has to do with a poor transfer by Warner but what the source material had to offer. The black levels, as a whole, are pretty good and even shots at night don’t show the flaws darker scenes tend to pick up such as pixilation or dust marks and scratches. Despite the fact it’s not an amazing looking high-def transfer, I have no doubt it’s heads and tails better than the DVD version.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track meanwhile sounds good with fine levels ranging from clear dialogue through the center channel to the various action sequences which provide the depth to this lossless track. The final scene especially has a fair amount of “boom” to the track, it’s not exactly The Incredible Hulk levels or anything yet still impressive enough.
OVERALL – 2.0/5
Overall, The Specialist is the tale of three movies: Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone are in one (average film); James Woods in another (an over-the-top but fun one); and Rod Steiger, with help by Mr. Camp himself Eric Roberts (in a bad film) who seemed to be on a different page from everybody else. As a whole, this is an uneven movie with poor pacing for the first two-thirds and it wasn’t until the action-packed finale that things come together, though it’s all too little, too late.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.