Film review: Specialist, The

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 11 1994 12:00 a.m. MDT

He's a mystery man. She's a mystery woman. And the real mystery is why they took this idiotic film.

Yes, Sylvester Stallone meets Sharon Stone in "The Specialist," a bizarre mix of explosions, histrionic acting and ridiculous plotting . . . and it isn't pretty.

Stallone plays an ex-CIA explosives expert who becomes obsessed with femme fatale Stone. She wants to hire him to blow up three mobsters who killed her parents when she was a child, watching their gruesome deaths from a closet. He says no, he doesn't do that anymore. What a guy.

But he keeps calling her anyway. He also follows her around, from a distance, while listening through an earpiece to audio tapes of their telephone conversations. (At first I thought it was a hearing aid . . . all those explosions, you know.)

And the film's suspense builds around whether Stallone or Stone will prove to be the worst actor. He sneers, she stares. He beats up a gang of punks at the back of a bus (throwing one of them through the window) when they decline to give a pregnant woman a seat. She seduces smarmy mobster Eric Roberts just to be sure she's there when Stallone blows him up. And both pose a lot, as if this is a photo shoot.

And sooner or later, you know Stallone's going to agree to go after Roberts and his two henchmen, who have apparently been together for more than 20 years. (That's longer than most marriages these days.)

Meanwhile, there's a loose cannon in the mix, James Woods, Stallone's former CIA partner who is now a corrupt cop . . . sort of. He's working for Roberts' father, the local godfather — but he really wants Stallone. "And I want him alive!"

As for the "erotic" in this "erotic thriller," when they finally get together, Stallone and Stone take a long shower together in a room at the Hilton Hotel. And I mean really long. We're talking 10 to 12 hours, going into the shower in the early evening and coming out the next morning when it's broad daylight. And they aren't even pruney.

"The Specialist" is set in Miami Beach, where it was shot on location, and screenwriter Alexandra Seros ("Point of No Return") and director Luis Llosa ("Sniper") are to be commended for attempting to integrate Hispanic culture into the proceedings. But one has to wonder why they didn't hire Hispanic actors to play the lead Hispanic roles, especially when Rod Steiger shows up as the godfather with a campy Spanish accent. "Joo joo, joo . . .," he says repeatedly, meaning, of course, "You, you, you." In this barrage of bad acting, he takes the top turkey award.

Woods is another matter. As if he's aware of just how stupid all this is, he deliberately plays it for camp, muttering one-liners under his breath, commenting on the silliness of certain scenes and generally seeming to have a great time. Consequently, he's fun to watch. In fact, Woods and a couple of over-the-top stunts are the only things that are fun to watch.

"The Specialist" is rated R for considerable violence, sex, nudity and profanity.