The Specialist is one movie that tries to offer audiences a unique kind of action vehicle steering its star Sylvester Stallone into a stereotypical hero mold audiences have seen too much. Set in Miami, the story moves the characters methodically and slowly. This gradual movement makes the story choppy at times, but gives the characters some depth. None of the actions seems particularly laughable or unrealistic because each action is carefully planned.
Director Luis Llosa, who directed and produced numerous Peruvian films and television programs, handles this big budget film with good camera shots and setting control. The editing could have been improved to make the movie flow better.
Stallone plays Ray Quick (that’s right, Quick), an ex-CIA explosives expert who works as a private “detonator”, thus the movie’s title, The Specialist. He lives in a secluded environment which gives him an advantage over antagonists in future scenes. Sharon Stone plays the troubled May who cannot forget the death of her parents. May proceeds to manipulate certain characters whenever possible to achieve her goal, but another character alters her plan.
James Woods plays Ray’s old archrival, Ned, with quick-tempered action and an evil attitude. Eric Roberts plays Tomas, the son of the leader of the Leon crime family, Joe Leon, played by the experienced Rod Steiger (In the Heat of the Night, End of Days) complete with Cuban accent.
This movie doesn’t necessarily strive to be the typical non-stop action picture and focuses on the characters more than the action. The movie’s crew can be commended for the absence of senseless violence. Every bomb and punch has a purpose that reflects the intentions of the characters, except one unnecessary scene in a bus meant to boost Stallone’s character appeal.
The story mainly focuses on May’s intentions involving the crime family. Once Ray and Ned get involved, the story becomes a dynamic triangle between these three characters. Ray’s heroic characteristics factor in when he encounters the crime family while Ray uses powerful influences to tip the scale of justice in his favor.
The phone conversations between Ray and May are effective cinematic tools that draw the audience to their respective plights as they form a bond before they see each other. Ray’s needs and curiosity become so great that he tracks May’s movements and records their correspondence. Llosa cleverly uses this relationship for some nice camera shots using voice over dialogue while Ray watches May.
Stallone, Stone and Woods combine for an appealing box office draw, however some action fans will stay away due to the slow-paced, but interesting, story. The story build a lot of inventive foreplay and allows Stallone to do more than just grunt and jump out of the way of explosions and bullets. Still, this decent movie (recommended with reservations; ** out of four stars) is fairly predictable and viewers usually need more exciting scenes to compensate for lack of plot twists and surprises.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler