REVIEW: ‘Spenser Confidential’ is a Boring, Muddled Mess

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Spenser Confidential

Spenser Confidential is the new Netflix original action-comedy directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg and Winston Duke. Wahlberg stars as the ex-cop Spenser who has just got out of prison. With the hope of leaving Boston and his old life behind for good, Spenser packs up but is stopped when he gets roped into helping his old boxing coach and mentor, Henry (Alan Arkin).

Moving back home after spending five years in prison is a hell of an adjustment. Spenser is avoiding his girlfriend, has a new roommate, and is struggling to make his dog remember him. And just when he thinks he is getting his footing back, two of his former colleagues turn up murdered. Recruiting his new roommate, Hawk (Duke) no-nonsense MMA fighter, and his loud-mouth girlfriend Cissy Davis (Iliza Shlesinger), Spenser works to get to the bottom of the murders.

The concept of Spenser Confidential is fairly straight-forward and not exactly groundbreaking. While that isn’t necessarily an issue, the film is just boring. The first half of the movie is spent with Spenser debating whether or not be wants to get involved. The lead up to any real action takes far too long as the movie continually focuses instead on Spenser’s connection to his former colleagues. This is a major issue mostly because the movie tells us how close Spenser was with these individuals but in no way shows this. There are no flashbacks and rarely any interaction between the side characters.

Additionally, the relationship between Spenser and Cissy is just bizarre. The two are basically estranged after she stopped visiting him in jail. Once he is home, Spenser goes out of his way to avoid Cissy until everything comes to blows at Henry’s boxing gym and later a restaurant bathroom. There is little chemistry between the two and their bickering comes off more as toxic than endearing or comical. The love scene they have together is meant to be played for laughs as they continue to fight but it is just uncomfortable to watch.

Spenser Confidential

And with so much focus on Spenser over the other, more interesting characters, the movie just comes off as bland. Wahlberg’s performance isn’t bad but it also doesn’t add anything to the movie or genre that we haven’t’ seen a hundred times before. As much as I wanted to love Duke’s character, Hawk, he is incredibly one dimensional. Duke is an incredible actor but with a lackluster script and boring direction, he becomes forgettable. Ironically, or maybe not, the moments he truly shines are when his character isn’t with Spenser.

The strangest character in the film with the most bizarre subplot is Squeeb played by Post Malone. Squeeb is a white nationalist Wahlberg met in jail. When Wahlberg needs information from him, he sends Hawk to hit on Squeeb’s wife as blackmail while Squeeb watches from his jail cell. Malone isn’t a bad actor and the scene isn’t necessarily disturbing, although the implications are strange, but it is just odd. To be honest, they’re a lot of scenes in this movie that just feel off and create a lot of the tonal problems the movie suffers from.

The best part of Spenser Confidential is its use of licensed music. From hits like “Foreplay / Long Time” by Boston to “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, the soundtrack of the film adds to the upbeat and at times sardonic setting the movie wants to create. To be fair, the most humorous and cleverest moments of the film come from the soundtrack choices. Despite being billed as a comedy of sorts, Spenser Confidential just isn’t funny. Not only because the jokes don’t land but because there really are none.

Overall, Spenser Confidential is a run of the mill action movie that can’t decide if it wants to be Training Day or Rush Hour. With some shocking content, including showing a dead cat that has been nailed to the door, next to the run of the mill buddy cop antics, Spenser Confidential is a muddled mess that doesn’t know what it wants to achieve.

Spenser Confidential is streaming now on Netflix.

Spenser Confidential 
  • 3/10
    Spenser Confidential  - 3/10
3/10

TL:DR

Overall, Spenser Confidential is a run of the mill action movie that can’t decide if it wants to be Training Day or Rush Hour. With some shocking content, including showing a dead cat that has been nailed to the door, next to the run of the mill buddy cop antics, Spenser Confidential is muddled and mess that doesn’t know what it wants to achieve.