Spenser Confidential (2020) - Review
Updated: Sep 13
When I saw the trailer of Spenser Confidential back in January, I was wondering if it was a re-boot of the Spenser for Hire TV Series and made for TV movies from the 80s and 90s that most people from my generation grew to love starring Robert Urich. In my research for this review, I also discovered that Joe Mategna incarnated the same character in the early 2000’s on Lifetime. Spenser Confidential has a different take on the character and its story line. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, Alan Arkin, Iliza Shlesinger, Bokeem Woodbine, Donald Cerrone, Marc Maron, Austin Post, and Post Malone and marks the fifth collaboration between Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg after Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day, and Mile 22. The film was released on March 6, 2020, by Netflix. Did the movie hold its own? Lets find out !!!!
I was not far from my initial assumption. It is not a straight re-boot. The movie is loosely based on the novel Wonderland, the 2013 Spenser novel by Ace Atkins and the 41st book to feature author Robert B. Parker’s single-named hero. In the original novels, Spenser is a Private Eye and Hawk was his hitman sidekick that translated well to the small screen. Besides the names, the fact both stories take place in Boston and Spenser’s Code of Honor, the story line is quite different. In this movie, Wahlberg is Spenser, a Boston cop getting out of prison after assaulting a colleague he claimed was crooked. His plan was to leave the city once he was released from prison and become a truck driver. However, it does not turn out that way when the cop he attacked was found murdered the day he was released from prison. Many attributed the murder to Spenser as an act of revenge, which was not true. Spenser goes out to figure out the truth and he is pulled into a murky underworld of drugs, violence and corruption. Hawk, played by Winston Duke, is an up and coming fighter that lives with Spenser’s old coach and mentor Henry (Alan Arkin). This is where Spenser meets Hawk once he is released from prison. Spenser ends up becoming Hawk’s coach, and Hawk becomes Spenser’s helping hand in this crime solving adventure. This is a good summary of the premise for the movie. I will not get into the entire plot of the movie not to give away the entire story since the movie is available on Netflix.
I can not believe the amount of bad reviews that have been published since the movie was released on March 6, 2020. I really do not know what these movie critics are looking for in a movie. Is it an Oscar contender probably not, but is it better than a Chuck Norris movie like Invasion USA? Absolutely!!! This is an enjoyable movie, that is easy going, not complicated to follow and certainly welcomed in these covid-19 times. A perfect balance between action, drama and comedy.
On a more analytical side, you might see why Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg keep working together. If you look at the sum of their work, Peter Berg appears to understand how to direct Mark Wahlberg. He appears to know how to get the most out of his actor keeping him in his range of what he can do. Wahlberg has demonstrated that his best roles are the ones that are blue colored workers, soldiers and scrappers, which Peter Berg gravitates towards. Peter has a genuine feel for blue-collar worlds in which a lot of movie makers have a hard time realistically creating them. He’s not stylish, but he is functional, and knows how to stage real knockdown, drag-out fight scenes. This is exactly what you get from Spenser Confidential. We get a Wahlberg and Berg in a light version, nothing over the top. We have Hawk, Spenser’s partner-in-crime and a calming presence when he’s not literally tossing thugs through walls. An Alan Arkin in an old-guy role that paves the way for the Oscar winner to go full metal Arkin. Stand-up comic Iliza Schlesinger as the movie’s part-time romantic interest/full-time comic relief and a caricature of a scary Southie woman. You also have that Bokeem Woodbine smile, which is a menacing thing. You might not want to pay for it in a theatre, but on Netflix, it is much better than most of the movies they have available. Netflix was the right choice to distribute the film. The ending of the movie leaves the door open for a sequel. A sequel would be welcomed in my book.
The movie reminds me of a made for TV movie back in the 90s. It is a straightforward storyline with good performances by the entire cast. The actors appear to be enjoying themselves and it shows in their performance. The movie is a great distraction for a few hours, especially in these challenging times. As I am writing this review, most of the people on this planet are confirmed to their home due to the covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. We need movies like these just to distract us for a little while. It does not solve any immediate problem; however, it helps in keeping us sane.
I give this this an 8.5 on 10 stars. A great movie for a distraction from all the craziness of the world.
If you have watched the movie, let us know if you agree with our review.