Picks and Pans Review: The Specialist

updated 10/24/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/24/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, James Woods, Eric Roberts, Rod Steiger

Sly and Sharon won't make anyone forget Bogie and Bacall, but they do display a kind of mutual cold-bloodedness as they hook up in this bombastically violent, bloody action film. Their love scenes don't suggest romance so much as they do two sleek sports cars parked in adjacent spots.

Stone is a Miami woman who as a child hid in a closet while her parents were murdered—for reasons never established—by thugs from a Cuban gang. Now she is determined to get revenge on the gang's father-son leaders, Steiger and Roberts.

Stallone is a former CIA demolitions expert who made a point of never blowing innocent bystanders to smithereens. He has become a freelance hit man who advertises, using a modem, on a computer bulletin board. Stone wants to hire him to do her revenge killings, which leads to multiple complications. They include Woods, Stallone's ruthless former CIA partner, now working with the gang and brooding over a grudge of his own against Stallone for getting him thrown out of the agency.

Woods and Roberts make strong bad guys and Steiger, except for a risible Spanish accent (he keeps calling Stallone "dat esplosives espert"), does a passable variation on Don Corleone.

Stone is her usual dazzling, neo-Lana Turner self. And Stallone remains a peerless embattled action hero, even if he is still not going to win any elocution contests. Not that he has much to say. The script, by Alexandra Seros, shows that women can write violent, vulgar action films as crassly as men. Director Luis Llosa stays out of the way of his effects experts Clay Pinney and Neal Krepela, who orchestrate the pyrotechnics with originality. (R)

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