“Spenser Confidential” marks the return of the Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg team-up. This time, their work is being produced by Netflix.
When two Boston police officers are murdered, ex-cop Spenser (Wahlberg) teams up with his roommate, Hawk (Winston Duke) to take down criminals.
Berg has made some very fine films in the past, unfortunately, he does not reinvigorate his filmography with this new Wahlberg film.
One of the more distracting elements the film places near the beginning was an appearance by Post Malone. He wasn’t that bad in terms of acting. However, there comes a point when one becomes so famous that when they appear in a film, you cannot help but get distracted. Similar to Ed Sheeran’s appearance in “Game of Thrones.”
The film’s establishment of the status quo was also very abrupt. Wahlberg used to be a cop, but then he’s not. Now he’s in prison for stepping out of line. Then he’s released from prison. All of this is accomplished in the span of the first fifteen minutes.
Then for the next half hour, nothing happens. Wahlberg sits at home, decides he wants to drive a truck for a living, teaches his new roommate to punch and deals with his romantic issues with his ex, Cissy. Whilst in the background, two cops are murdered and it doesn’t directly impact Wahlberg until he decides to do something about it though he has no reason to other than, literally, his ego.
Though the subplots are initially a waste of time, they’re tied up in a very blunt way at the end. Reminiscent to the ending of a Roland Emmerich film where each character has one very specific trait that’s conveniently paid off perfectly at the end. It’s not so much an arc, but rather a flat line.
This film itself felt like five seasons of a television show condensed into a two hour film. Overall, it felt like a very generic level of the game L.A. Noire where all of the clues are very easy to follow and it doesn’t take a genius to solve the case.
It’s also strange that this is a buddy cop film, but the buddy cop aspect is hardly focused on at all. Hawk and Spenser team up because Hawk just decides to for no reason other than the movie has to happen. The plot does not affect him at all, but he decides to join Spenser in his pursuit of taking down criminals.
The buddy cop aspect is also executed poorly in that both characters are the same people. The best buddy cop films are when two completely opposite characters are forced to work together — “Lethal Weapon” or “The Nice Guys” being the gold standard of the buddy-cop genre.
I’m not particularly fond of “The Other Guys,” but even that film understood the buddy cop dynamic by pinning two opposites, with interpersonal conflicts, together.
In “Spenser Confidential,” two identical characters just solve all of their problems by punching people. They never do anything clever that would make you like them or appreciate their intelligence of uncovering the truth.
I am also not a fan of Berg’s impulses as a filmmaker, especially the shots he chooses. So much of this film is just close up, cut to a close up, medium shot, cut, cut. I just get very anxious watching his films in scenes where you’re not supposed to be.
Full of obnoxious characters who have no arcs and an incoherent plot, “Spenser Confidential” is cliched beyond comprehension with no likable characters, but rather actors you recognize and may put up with.