Director: Peter Berg
Writers: Sean O’Keefe and Brian Helgeland
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, Alan Arkin
Former Boston cop and now also ex-con Spenser (Wahlberg) is released from prison and vows to leave Boston behind and start a new life, however when two police officers are murdered in suspicious circumstances on the same day he is compelled to investigate, and enlists the help of new roommate Hawk (Duke) to expose the corruption within the Boston police force once and for all.
I must confess that whenever I see a new film that stars Mark Walhberg or is directed by Peter Berg I certainly have very low expectations for it, and then my expectations are even lower when a film comes out that is that is starring Mark Walhberg AND directed by Peter Berg – something that seems to happen every couple of years now. The history of cinema has always contained some great director-actor partnerships, but I really do not expect Berk/Walhberg to be remembered for very long as it certainly is not one of them; though Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon were okay, since then the two of them seem to want to just give us mindless macho action films that are certainly dumb, but not fun.
Their latest is yet another film that desperately wants to be the start of a successful franchise that fits around its central star, but like so many other Wahlberg starring actioners of recent years it is painfully generic and clichéd, and so hopefully it will be forgotten about very soon. There is quite a lot of source material to go on, as this film is loosely based on the first of a series of books (of which I have no knowledge about, so cannot comment on), but we are once again given such an unlikeable protagonist who is impossible to route for or care about. This is mainly down to the poor writing and the protagonist’s reasons for doing what he does (though mildly admirable on some levels) being poorly justified, but also the fact it is a fast talking and permanently frowning Marky Mark in the leading role in what is essentially yet another vanity project (he is a producer after all). We are occasionally given patronising scenes in which we see our protagonist’s ‘nice’ side and are constantly reminded that he has a ‘moral code’, but it is impossible to care as these moments just further insult the intelligence of the viewer.
The film also wants to be an 80s-style buddy movie that mixes comedy and action (I intentionally avoid the phrase ‘tries to be’ as that would imply that there is actually a little bit of effort made) but the poor script, predictable story, clichéd caricatures and lack of chemistry between the actors makes the whole of Spenser Confidential a real effort to watch. The best line in the film surely has to be when the dynamic duo decides who gets to have the ‘cool gun’ and Winston Duke’s Hawk states ‘Hawk is the name of the guy with the shotgun. Spencer does your taxes’, but it does feel that his character has that ridiculous name just for that one line. At one point Spenser’s ex-girlfriend Cissy (played by Iliza Schlesinger in a very energetic and sparky performance that is horribly wasted by her being reduced to a lazy caricature) compares Spenser and Hawk to Batman and Robin, but instead of serving as a moment of hilarity it is instead is a depressing reminder of just how lame Spenser Confidential is.
As the plot plods along everything is very predictable, the action very dull and the whole experience is particularly arduous. Though Spenser Confidential may not be the worst film ever made, but with so much choice available on Netflix these days there are much better films of a similar vein to choose from. Unfortunately, it is yet another trip back to the drawing board for Berg and Wahlberg – one day Marky Mark will get that franchise he so desperately craves.
A dull and humourless film that will be forgotten about very quickly; Spenser Confidential seems content with just having Marky Mark shout and frown his way through a generic and clichéd script, and the result is sadly yet another miss for Netflix.