6th March 2020 (Netflix Premiere)
When two Boston police officers are murdered, ex-cop Spenser teams up with his no-nonsense roommate, Hawk, to take down criminals.
Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, Alan Arkin, Iliza Shlesinger, Bokeem Woodbine
A film set in Boston about police corruption and features boxing can only mean one thing – Mark Wahlberg’s back on the scene.
This time, Marky Mark plays Spenser, an officer who has been cast out from the Boston Police Department for attacking his Captain, Boylan. The assault cost him five years in prison and on the day of his release, the very same Captain winds up dead. Not only that, but a promising rookie Terrence is found having eaten a bullet in his car. Naturally, all eyes are on Spenser but when Spenser’s landlord and friend Henry (Alan Arkin; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Argo) provides cops with an alibi, that he was at home with his roommate and beast of a man Hawk (Winston Duke; Black Panther, Us), the detectives look elsewhere.
The investigation concludes Terrence murdered Boylan and then shot himself. But when weighing up the evidence, Spenser feels like something doesn’t add up. Enlisting the help of Henry and Hawk, as well as his brash loud-mouthed girlfriend Cissy (Iliza Shlesinger; Instant Family), the group try to uncover the truth as to who killed Boylan and clear the smeared name of Terrence.
Starting with 2013’s Lone Survivor, the partnership of director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg has seen its ups and downs. It’s provided us with the excellent real-life dramas Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day, but also cursed us with Mile 22 and now Spenser Confidential. Okay, maybe not cursed, but Spenser certainly falls into the category of weaker offerings from the pairing.
Spenser Confidential never quite decides whether it wants to be an action comedy akin to The Other Guys or a gritty crime piece similar to The Town or Gone Baby Gone. It’s not funny or zippily paced well enough to be the former, nor is its tired murder mystery plot scintillating enough to be classed as the latter. It lies in a strange limbo of both, occasionally focusing on one more than the other.
The Boston Police Department should either put Wahlberg on their payroll or sue him for impersonating an officer for the amount of times he’s worn the uniform. It’s a little different in Spenser Confidential in that he’s shunned from the force, but not before we see him don the BPD colours and jacket. Still, It’s a nondescript role he’s played countless times before and nothing contained within causes him any creative challenge.
For good measure and in true 80’s buddy-cop fashion, he’s got a sidekick in the form of Hawk. This mountain of a man is training to be an MMA fighter, but – obviously – needs the guidance of former champion boxer Spenser. Unfortunately there’s not much more to Hawk than this but Winston Duke manages to make it a worthwhile role simply through his commanding figure. Alan Arkin is always a delight to watch and its no exception here as Henry, the harmless mentor and landlord to Spenser. Spenser’s squawking on-off love interest Cissy intermittently interjects with the odd one-liner, and there’s an unusual but impressive acting debut by contemporary rapper Post Malone as (of course) a heavily tattooed prisoner.
Its core conundrum of criminal activity isn’t hard to figure out, nor is the journey to its inevitable unravelling a particularly interesting one to take. Spenser Confidential is simply a vehicle for Wahlberg to take a smooth ride for another paycheck. With five collaborations in the space of seven years, maybe it’s time to put the ‘Berg connection on ice.
Spenser Confidential is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.
Supporting cast all impress, including Post Malone
Can't decide to be a gritty drama or action comedy
All in a days work for Wahlberg as a Boston cop
Main story isn't as intriguing as it thinks