Film Review: Spenser Confidential

15:25 March 27, 2020
By: Fritz Esker

Netflix recently premiered Spenser Confidential, from director Peter Berg (Deepwater Horizon, Friday Night Lights). For better and for worse, it feels like a throwback to mid-range 1980s buddy-action movies.

The film is based on the novel Wonderland and features Mark Wahlberg as Spenser, who's fresh out of jail after having served five years for assaulting a corrupt and violent police captain. Shortly after Spenser's release, the captain is murdered. Spenser teams up with Hawk (Us's Winston Duke), a fellow boarder at Alan Arkin's halfway house, to solve the mystery. The crime is presented as a murder/suicide (with the alleged murderer being a fellow officer), but Spenser suspects something is amiss and investigates on behalf of the other officer's family.

As a mystery, there's not much here. It's very easy to figure out who the final villain will ultimately be. Spenser's relationship with his girlfriend (Iliza Shlesinger) is largely cartoonish. However, Wahlberg and Duke have good chemistry together, and there are a few inspired set pieces, most notably one where Spenser is beset by machete-wielding assassins inside a Mexican restaurant.

Berg's done better as a director but Spenser makes for a passable evening's entertainment while you practice social isolation.

★★ 1/2 stars (out of four)

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