One of the more recent releases to the Netflix fodder, and yet another collaboration between Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg. They may have previously made impactful films about heart-breaking disasters, military efforts and bombings, but Spenser Confidential takes things in another direction, towards comedy and action. In other unexpected turns, Winston Duke takes the role of Wahlberg’s right hand man, with Alan Arkin as back up and in even more strange choices, comedian Iliza Shlesinger as his crazy ex-girlfriend, although none quite as unusual as the Post Malone cameo.
There’s probably very few people that saw the trailer or heard about this film and expected something epic or an instant classic, it’s easy content, entertainment to be enjoyed and likely forgotten until you happen to scroll past it again. It’s best that you go in with that mindset otherwise, you’re going to be sorely disappointed, although it’s entirely possible that even if you go in with low expectations, you may still be disappointed.
The film has quite a strong television style to it, the story feels like something you might have found on CSI, the editing is lackluster at best, and the cinematography feels weak, which are its issues in a nutshell. The writing is cliched, they’re adding nothing new whatsoever and Shlesinger’s character is such a stereotype of the crazy ex, that it’s more fun for them to talk about her than it is to watch her because the chemistry between her and Wahlberg is non-existent, it’s awkward and a little strange, certainly far from any sparks. There’s also a lack of detail with its characters, of course there’s plenty of information about Wahlberg’s Spenser but little told of the much more interesting Hawk (Duke).
It’s hard to ignore that the quality of the film brings the words lazy and arrogant to mind, they’re not trying for anything different or anything impressive. Classic, time worn bad guy talk, lines that have been used in films so many times, they should be put to sleep. Wahlberg even feels less confident or tough in this role, as if he’s softening with age. The film’s issues even go so far to its poorly chosen soundtrack, the one song that does make sense as a choice, is used too briefly and too delayed to even make the meager, obvious joke it’s going for work.
Spenser Confidential is easy entertainment if you’re not looking for anything new. The set-up for a potential sequel is so disgustingly obvious, they should have just made it a TV series, Miami Vice comes to Boston, it would have fit in better with the style they chose. Berg’s directorial efforts have worked extremely well when he’s focused on real life people and there’s a lot more on the line, but with nothing to lose here, they just had money to burn and this one can be filed away with the Hancock and Battleship section of his filmography. In the end, it’s a watchable film and that’s the very basic of requirements it needs to meet, but if you’ve watched your fair share of cop or crime films, get ready to role your eyes at those clichés.