Get ready for Mark Wahlberg’s made-for-Netflix flick.
“Spenser Confidential” looks and feels like a made-for-Netflix movie withs its photography, narrative, and nonstop action; and it is. But it’s also a funny and entertaining one at best. It’s mainly because of how Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg both have such a fascinating connection (despite “Mile 22” being a bombastic mess), and how they adapt Robert B. Parker’s Detective Spenser character with their own whip smart and wickedly funny pace.
Spenser (Wahlberg) has a lot of things up his ass. He’s just been released from prison for beating up his former police captain John Boylan (Michael Gaston), takes a truck-driving class in order to move from Boston to Arizona to start fresh, becomes the Boston PD’s least favorite person, has an ex-con named Hawk (Winston Duke) as his new roommate, struggles to rekindle his relationship with his girlfriend Cissy (Illiza Shlesinger), and begins to solve a murder mystery.
That’s how uptight and backed up this ex-Boston cop is; and seeing these turmoils morph together in the same screenplay is versatile.
The same police chief and another cop have both been murdered, and Spenser is the only guy who seems to be interested in taking the case, especially since he knows the chief was a dirty pig. But he’ll need some help from Hawk, who’s also training to be a fighter, and Henry (Alan Arkin), the man who took these two in.
The story (based on Ace Atkins’ novel “Wonderland”) does get convoluted with the drug dealers and the dirty cops, but it’s the ambition and B-movie fun that makes “Spenser Confidential” a nonstop lark. I really admire the mean streak and persistence spunk Wahlberg delivers in his character, and the violence and comical attitude written for his scenes by Sean O’Keefe and Brian Helgeland. It’s the combination of anger and humor that makes it resonate with the best or worst of the action comedy cinema.
The supporting actors are also damn right flexible. Duke makes a fresh sidekick with his timing; Shlesinger forgets the estranged girlfriend cliches with a nasty attitude; Arkin keeps the characters in check; Bokeem Woodbine offers the goods as a dirty cop; Marc Maron has an interesting cameo role as a Boston Globe reporter; and Post Malone has a cameo dangerous role as a prisoner, who’s ordered by his boss to kick Spenser’s tail.
“Spenser Confidential” also has an eclectic taste in music (with hits from Aerosmith and Foreigner, among others), and it’s sense of action and danger is either campy or fun. It all depends on how they play out.
Again, it’s made for Netflix, since no major studio would buy it, but it’s one Hell of a Netflix entry, and we have Wahlberg and Berg’s teamwork to appreciate.