Tuesday, 16 April 2013

No.90 : The Specialist

The Specialist at The IMDb

 It’s not often we cover tent pole release films here at The Definite Article Movie Blog but sometimes they show up on ITV4 and you have to justify why you are watching when the shower scene comes on.

You probably saw this film, like I did when, it came out in 1994 but if you haven’t seen it lately beware - it’s dated worse than Hugh Hefner in flares.

Sly Stallone stars as Ray an explosives expert who may be all broody or just a bit slow. Suffice it so say he needs several puffs on his huge cigar before his words of wisdom are slurred out - I blame that Apollo Creed. We meet Ray back in the old days when he and James Woods are a couple of black-ops guys taking on the cartels. Sly has a conscience and when the drug lord shows up on the rigged to explode bridge with his daughter he tries to stop the death fest. Woods on the other hand is a bastard (who follows orders, it has to be said) and pistol whips Sly when his attempted rescue fails like his bid to defeat Clubber Lang (in the first fight).

The two part on bad terms but we know the daft looking flashback with the aging actors pretending to be young has to suggest their paths will cross again. We move to present day Miami and Sly is in contact with a mysterious woman we know to be Sharon Stone. She’s trying to get Sly to kill three men who killed her pop when she was a little girl. Sly is cautious and conducts all his business on the phone using the first laptop in history to get his messages.

Sharon can’t wait for Sly (despite hanging about 40 years to start her plan) and tries to get inside the bad guys’ gang by dating slimy Eric Roberts who ordered her dad’s killing. Sly watches on as Roberts plays grabby hands with Sharon and eventually agrees to take on the hits.  He takes out the two henchmen first alerting Roberts to his existence and causing him to hire James Woods from that earlier paragraph. As Sly prepares his hit on Roberts we learn that he and Sharon and Woods have a plan of their own to trap Ray - but has Sharon fallen for the punch drunk pyromaniac?

Soon the pieces start to fall into place and Sly falls into Sharon - can the pair trust each other and get away from the increasingly overacting Woods and grieving Rod Steiger?

This is a gawd awful effort of a film but you have to say some of that is down to the dated fashions, technology and Kenny G soundtrack that has a wailing sax in every scene. There is however some stuff you can't excuse such as Sly doing tai-chi in his pants to a power ballad intercut with Sharon flouncing about in her nighty. If they were trying for ‘sexy’ they got stuck on ‘laughable’.

The film does try to have an almost film noir feel with moody glances and a sense that the characters are doomed or at least a bit troubled. The truth is they largely look like they’ve been on a frenzy of steroids and shoulder pads before finding out that the acting school has been burnt down.

Sly is pretty much as you’d expect and he does have some moments including one where he takes the bus (?) and beats up a gang of rowdies for no apparent reason. Stone is dreadful as the wronged daughter seeking revenge and she’s way too old for Eric Roberts who is meant to be at least 20 years her senior but looks more like her young son. Poor old Rod Steiger shows up in a dreadful role as a maniacal Mafia boss and he may be playing it for laughs, I couldn’t tell. Worst was Woods who as an explosives expert he makes a convincing actor who needs a new agent.

The explosions and sex scenes may garner this turkey pass marks but it is about as involving and affecting and finding out that your newspaper is missing its promised ‘Investing in Kazakhstan’ supplement.

THE Tag Line - It’s about an hour or so in..       54%

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