I don’t really know what to say about this movie other than that when actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg were on a roll, they were on a roll. They had a fantastic little true story action trilogy together with Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, and Patriot’s Day. All three filmed with precision, clarity, and accuracy. But now with Netflix’s new original film SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL and 2018’s Mile 22, they are officially in a major downward slump, and the only question is, are they going to make a third film together to cap off this mediocre trilogy or maybe they’ll start to get the hint and look for other projects with different people for a change? The real problem with this movie is that it’s misfire is with it’s execution of what tone it wants the film to have, combined with too many predictable cliched story elements for it to make sense why this script was even greenlit to be made. Is it a actioner? Eh, I would have to say it’s probably Peter Berg’s worst directed film (not worst movie, that goes to Very Bad Things, but at least that movie had a unique style to it that can’t be denied). He’s on autopilot here, with action so sparse, cheap and staged poorly that the movie turns into a horribly edited shaky cam of a Frankenstein monster which is even more jarring when compared to the other scenes where characters just talk and they use the usual steady, smooth cam dolly movements. This isn’t a giant Netflix misfire like the recent The Last Thing He Wanted, but it’s definitely not worth any of your valuable time.
This Spenser Confidential is apparently loosely based on Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels, which itself was turned into a television series back in the 80s. This whole film feels cheap to the point where it maybe should’ve been turned into a limited series on HBO or Showtime. Maybe bring in some writers to make the whole story more complex. Here? Not so complex. I knew who was the secret bad guy right when I saw them, and I figured the whole thing had to do with drugs, money, and possibly a venture such as a Casino to launder that money into and make even more money. It was all so very simple to figure out, that I yawned almost every couple of minutes when all these developments revealed themselves. Mark Wahlberg plays a cop named Spenser who is sent to prison for five years for beating the shit out of his boss when he suspects his boss of being a dirty cop after trying to bury a murder investigation and also sees that he beats his wife. After five years he is out, and after a little time in sort of a halfway home time situation living with Alan Arkin and Winston Duke, he’s going to move to start his new life. Problem is, he still has that solving corruption itch he has to scratch, especially when his boss ends up brutally murdered and another cop (who apparently committed “suicide” after the crime) is to blame, one that Spenser remembered was legit and kind. Combined with having to deal with an obsessive ex-girlfriend that can’t make up her mind whether she wants him completely out of her life or just to keep fucking his brains out, he has to figure everything out before he moves, and hopefully leave with him and his friends life in the process.
And as I said earlier, the problem with the movie is with tone. The movie tries too hard to mix too many genres together. It wants to be a buddy comedy, but there isn’t enough of Winston Duke in the entire film to warrant that. It wants to be taken as a serious drama as some point with a really awkward scene of a woman finding her husband dead in a car with some one shot dolly pull back. It wants to be taken as an action movie, but there are few action scenes and they are shot shaky cam horribly. It was to be taken as a mystery/thriller, but has no mystery (because everything is predictable), and it has no thrills. I didn’t laugh once. And when an extended cameo from Post Malone is THE BEST ACTING THE MOVIE HAS TO OFFER…you can chalk it up to something being wrong. And don’t even get me started on actress Iliza Sclesinger, who literally gives the worst performance of the year so far, with a Boston accent so fucking over the top and fake you’ll be plugging your fingers in your eyes so you don’t have to fucking hear it anymore. And Mark Wahlberg, he’s coasting in this film like he does in most, the only performance where it seemed like he actually tried was Instant Family in 2018, and before that maybe not even The Departed in 2007. He’s has the range of Scwharzenegger and Stallone, always the muscle, never the award winner.
Yeah a Netflix blunder for sure. And if you are a constant reader of my reviews, don’t worry, I won’t go into the whole “Netflix has much more blunders than winners” schpeil all over again. You’ve probably all figured it out yourselves. This all felt like a really low rent made for television movie, where you wouldn’t find the likes of Mark Wahlberg ever touching this thing. It all screams a giant Netflix paycheck, with Whalberg being able to be directed by a friend again, who he knows can coast through this production with his eyes closed. What happened to trying? What happened to actually giving a shit? I mean do all these screenwriters have some sort of time crunch where this is the best that they can come up with or are they smoking weed until an hour before deadline? It sometimes just doesn’t make any fucking sense. I hardly saw this film marketed, but you would think they could’ve titled the film Spenser For Hire to get older fans of the novels and TV series amped up to watch this, but it was just dumped on Netflix this weekend, not a care in the world, and I see that a trailer had only debuted a month ago. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…wonder why? Doesn’t take a detective to figure it out…confidentially yet unconfidentially mediocre.