Soundtrack review: The specialist (John Barry – 1994)
I always found the decision to have John Barry score “The specialist” as very strange. Of course, after hearing the score this turned into “brilliantly” strange, but still…to have a modern thriller starring not one, but two Expendables (Sylvester Stallone and Eric Roberts) with music by the most romantic composer of them all seemed peculiar at first. It now makes me imagine the poster of the movie in black and white and set in the 40s.
I enjoyed the movie. Sly, Roberts, Sharon Stone and James Woods combined for an entertaining couple of hours, and I noticed John Barry’s subtle compositions at various moments. Usually in thrillers the music supports the action and blends with it. In this case, every now and then a beautiful and melancholic piano tune would silence the on screen agitation and make you focus on the notes.
The more I listen to John Barry, the harder it is to find new words to describe his music. The mood or sound doesn’t change very often, but boy is it beautiful! The music is wide, deep, intense, moody…there’s some new shade to discover in each cue…just listen to “The first bomb – Ray’s place”: every now and then you hear an echo which sounds like a drum being caressed with a soft brush.
So don’t expect to find action music in “The specialist”. Don’t expect pounding rhythms and deafening beats. Simply expect different nuances of intensity and tensions, all written with the softest of edges. The music flows like smooth silk and goes gentle on the ears. Instead of making the action loud, Barry makes it deep. It’s a very smart way of differentiating the tones and scenes, and it works.
Whatever the movie says or doesn’t say to you, the score is a wonderful listening experience. From luscious jazz lounge tracks like “Let’s see that beautiful face – “Did you call me”) through atmospheric pieces like “The death of Tomas” to haunting female background vocalizes in “Ray meets May at her funeral” (don’t ask, I didn’t say the movie had the smartest plot), each cue is a gem which leads into the next one like the most exquisite string of pears, bound together by the main theme “Did you call me” which recurs a few times throughout the composition. Each of the pearls has a slightly different shade, but is just as precious. Look for “The specialist” in (at least) my top 10 at the end of the month.
Cue rating: 90 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 53 / 58
Album excellence: 92%
The Specialist In Miami
May And Ray At The Cemetery
May Dances With Tomas – “Did You Call Me”
Ray Covers May – “Did You Call Me”
The First Bomb – Ray’s Place
The Parking Lot Bomb
Don’t Touch Me Ned – Bomb For Tomas
The Death Of Tomas
May’s Room – “Did You Call Me”
Ray Meets May At Her Funeral
Let’s See That Beautiful Face – “Did You Call Me”
Closing In On Ray
There Goes The Hotel Room – The Fight
May Meets Joe – I’m Not A Woman You Can Trust
You Go In And Get Him – “Did You Call Me”
The Whole Place Is Wired – She’s Hot Ray
Get To Hell Out Of Here
You Bastard – How Do You Feel? – Better! – “Did You Call Me” End Title