Updated: May 26, 2020
Film: Spenser Confidential
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, Alan Arkin, Lliza Shlesinger, Bokeem Woodbine, Cassie & Post Malone.
Director: Peter Berg
Review: Klep Napier
Rating: 3.5X’s out of 5X’s
Let’s not beat around the bush here, Spenser Confidential is a reboot done well! Based on the series of books by Robert B. Parker and the 1985 hit television series (Spenser For Hire). Mark Wahlberg plays Spenser, an ex-cop now turned ex-convict who’s never been able to turn the other cheek when he feels something bad is happening to innocent people.
Spenser (Wahlberg) has just served time in prison for assaulting a fellow officer and now that he’s a free man, he’s just looking to move to Arizona and forget the past. That is until the past resurfaces surrounded with dirty cops and corruption & murder. Spencer just can’t bare to see a good cop go down for a murder he didn’t commit and from there, the action begins.
Spenser Confidential is completely different from what some may remember from Robert Urich’s "Spenser For Hire" but in a fresh way. It’s modernized the entire franchise while keeping that same dynamic between Spenser and his peers. Winston Dukes portrayal of Hawk is a lot less monotoned than Avery Brooks’ stone cold cool guy act. Duke is more of a love-able calm brute, until the time comes for him to move his weight around. But in a traditional manner he always watches Spenser’s back.
But enough nostalgia, let’s get into the wins. Spenser Confidential wins for it's ability to keep a fresh story about crooked cops and political corruption. Fair to say we’ve seen this played out a million times but never with these players. Wahlberg is realistic and not the super hero protagonist most franchises want the audience to believe, but rather the grounded honest hero who is actually easier to believe. You relate to his moral compass in a scene when he’s asked “why are you doing this”? And he simply responds, “Because it’s the right thing to do”. It’s old school buddy cop stuff that you just couldn’t get enough of back in the days. Most certainly didn’t know you needed now.
The ensemble and setting around Wahlberg and Duke complete the recipe. For those who didn’t know the original Spenser took place in good Boston Massachusetts. Therefore the back drop and cast reflect in only the most stereotypical and cliche way, but plays well considering it is Wahlberg’s home town. Speaking of “The Town” Spenser’s girlfriend played by Lliza Shlesinger at first comes off like a carbon copy of Ben Affleck's annoying Southie, foul mouthed, main squeeze [as if this is all women of Boston] but she serves as a strong backbone and companion in the film that Spenser needs in a comical way. This part of it all serves as losses in our book, when studios try too hard to imitate the life style of New Englanders especially in the city of Boston. We can assure you, as being natives from Massachusetts ourselves, we don’t all "Pahk the caah in Hahvahd Yahd,". While I will admit, it is sometimes humorous to watch in films like this sometimes.
Overall, Spenser Confidential will serve you well with buddy cop action, suspense and humor. High praises to Netflix and director Peter Berg. We want, no, we NEED more Spenser!