One of Stallone's many action films done during the mid-90's, "The Specialist" is definitely not the best of the bunch, which includes "Daylight", "Cliffhanger" and "Assassins". The film stars Stallone as Ray Quick, a former CIA operative who is also an explosive expert. After a job goes wrong in the opening scene, Quick goes out on his own and his partner, Ned Trent(James Woods) joins with the Miami mob, led by a couple of characters played by Rod Steiger and Eric Roberts, both of whom turn in overdone performances.
Enter Sharon Stone, who wants revenge on the mobsters who killed her parents years ago. That's about all there is to the plot, which is well, not really enough to sustain a 110 minute movie. Director Luis Llosa seems to want to let the movie glide along on style and cinematographer Jeffrey Kimball's slick photography, but it doesn't work here. The pacing is too slow, and action sequences sprinkled throughout the movie go by a little too quickly to be that entertaining.
The film's performances are not terribly fun to watch, with the exception of James Woods, whose energy and wit almost makes him seem as if he walked in from another movie altogether. Stallone and Stone are both dull - the only films that Stallone really has begun to show any emotion in are "Cliffhanger" and "Daylight". Here, he remains a dark, frowning presence. The talent isn't able to do much with the screenplay, which could use a bit of humor in-between all the grimness.
"The Specialist" has a few action sequences that are pretty impressive, but they make up so little time that what you're left with is a pretty dull affair to have to sit through.
VIDEO: As with the also recently reviewed Outbreak
, "The Specialist" is one of the first titles that Warner Brothers offered on DVD. The picture quality is still remarkably good, even for an early effort from the studio, released over 2 years ago. Images are razor sharp and well-defined, looking pleasingly smooth and offering very good detail. Colors are great as well, with the Miami scenery offering rich, bold colors that look particularly great here. Black level is solid and flesh-tones are natural, as well.
A few little problems here and there don't take away much from what's an otherwise really excellent offering. There's a few tiny marks, but they are terribly noticable and definitely not distracting. The same goes for shimmering, which appears on occasion. This is a consistently great looking transfer from Warner that stands up to many transfers that have been done a couple years later. A pan&scan version is located on the flip-side.
SOUND: Around 6 years old, "The Specialist" doesn't really take advantage of audio the way that most recent films do. The film's handful of more intense action sequences offer a punch with some good surround use, but other than that, the audio doesn't really open up that much. Surround use is pretty limited outside the film's action sequences, and the audio is, for the majority, from the front. There is some very enjoyable deep bass though, especially during the film's handful of major explosions.
The John Barry("Playing By Heart") score has a nice, rich tone with some solid beats that make for an entertaining experience. For an action film that's a few years old, "The Specialist" provides some good sequences, but don't expect it to stand up to more recent films in terms of sound.
MENUS:: As with many of the early titles from the studio, the menu is pretty minimal, with basic film images and options.
EXTRAS:: A little more than many early titles from the studio - the film's theatrical trailer, as well as notes on cast/crew, the film's special effects and also, the Miami location filming. .
Final Thoughts: An instance where the DVD audio/video quality is very good, but the movie isn't worth it.
The Film D
Video 91/A = (364/400 possible points)
Audio 88/B = (352/400 possible points)
Extras: 75/C = (225/300 possible points)
Menus: 70/C = (140/200 possible points)
Value: 80/B- = (240/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: D
DVD GRADE: B