Year 9, Day 7 - 1/7/17 - Movie #2,507
BEFORE: I could have followed the Melanie Griffith link and watched "The Bonfire of the Vanities", but that wouldn't have gotten me where I need to be at the end of January - at least, I don't think it would have. I've chosen to follow the James Woods link, as he carries over from "Night Moves", because I know for sure that this chain gets me there, I've worked it out, mostly. And this keeps me in the action genre, which is where I've spent most of 2017's first week. I've also had actors in each film that were Carrie Fisher-adjacent at some point, and that holds true tonight as well, even if those actors only play "Thug #1" and "Punk #3" in tonight's film.
THE PLOT: A woman entices a bomb expert she's involved with into destroying the mafia that killed her family.
AFTER: When it comes to action films, they seem to work best when the characters have clear motivations. Like in those "Expendables" films, they've usually got a mission - infiltrate, take down (or blow up, whichever) and then GTFO. The motivations for all of the main characters in "The Specialist" are murky at best. Stallone's character, Ray Quick, is probably the easiest to understand - a former bomb expert who resigned from the CIA and now works as a freelance hit man.
But his ex-partner, Ned Trent, is harder to get a read on, because he's working for this crime organization, but he's also working with the bomb squad. I couldn't tell if he was a cop, a mobster or both, or if he was just somehow playing all these angles at once. The plot summary on Wiki says he's not a cop, but was placed on the bomb squad by the mob - sure, because I'm sure mobsters get to hire and fire at police stations all the time. WTF?
The woman, May, who hires Ray to kill mobsters is even harder to understand - she wants to kill the men who killed her family, but she seems to be partying with them and seducing them, in order to get close enough to kill them. OK, that's a crazy plan, but maybe it could work - but if it does, then why does she also need Ray to blow them up? Or if she hires Ray, then why does she need to keep trying to get close to one of the men?
Ah, but there is a twist - unfortunately that twist gives her a background and a plan that's even stupider than the first one. And Ned's OK with using May to get Ray to attack the mob, or so it seems, provided that he only blow up the guys ahead of him, so he can advance up the chain? Wait, is that what's going on? Now I'm not sure. These two characters, their motivations seem to be all over the place. May wants Ray to kill mobsters, but she's also the bait to catch Ray in a trap? Or did I misread the situation?
Worst of all, after sleeping with Ray, she leaves him a note that reads "I'm not the type of woman you can trust." OK, should he trust her when she tells him that she's untrustworthy? It's kind of like when a piece of paper reads "The statement on the other side of the paper is true" and you turn it over to read "The statement on the other side of the paper is false." Or if the guy in charge of the equipment on New Year's Eve can't get the ball to drop, and then his boss tells him the next day that he really messed up and "dropped the ball", only he didn't.
I guess I shouldn't expect much from a film that only seems interested in using enough story to get to the next explosion, or one that features Rod Steiger as a mob kingpin with an even worse Hispanic accent than the one Al Pacino used in "Scarface". This film felt like a covert mission gone wrong - poorly planned, and poorly executed. Explosions are thrilling, I'll grant that, but there's not much else going on.
Also starring Sylvester Stallone (last seen in "Escape Plan"), Sharon Stone (last seen in "He Said, She Said"), Rod Steiger (last seen in "Doctor Zhivago"), Eric Roberts (last seen in "Inherent Vice"), Mario Ernesto Sanchez, Sergio Doré Jr., Chase Randolph, Jeana Bell.
RATING: 3 out of 10 shaped charges