Review: “Spenser Confidential” shows Mark Wahlberg at his best


Courtesy of Netflix

Cody Downey

Mark Wahlberg steps back into the action genre to bring a tale of corrupt cops and shady business deals in “Spenser Confidential.”

After serving five years in prison for assaulting his corrupt captain, former Boston police officer Spenser, played by Wahlberg, wants to leave his old life behind. Before he can set out and leave, Spenser moves in with his former boxing trainer Henry, played by Alan Arkin, and up-and-coming MMA fighter Hawk, played by Winston Duke. However, his plans are delayed when an innocent cop is blamed for the murder of Spenser’s former captain. Spenser, Henry, Duke and Spenser’s ex-girlfriend Cissy, played by Iliza Shlesinger, must all work together to solve the murder and clear the innocent cop’s name.

Mark Wahlberg teams up once again with director Peter Berg, with this being their fifth collaboration since 2013’s “Lone Survivor.” With this film, the duo strays away from their usual historical theme and leans more toward being a straight action film such as their last film, 2018’s “Mile 22.” However, as the latter film took a more serious approach, “Spenser Confidential” mixes its action with a bit of fun.

The best part of the film has to be the chemistry between Wahlberg and Duke’s character. Like any other classic odd couple in a buddy film, the pair works off each well. Wahlberg works as the jaded mentor with Duke as his unstable and brute protege. The two do a great job and provide many of the laughs presented in the film.

Along with the leads’ chemistry, the action and humor are what really sells this movie. Though it can fall flat every now and again, these aspects are spaced out enough through the film where it doesn’t get stale. After an action scene, it may go to a more dramatic scene. After a comedic scene, it may go to an action scene. The film always tries to make sure these things aren’t done to death.

Despite all this good though, “Spenser Confidential” does fall flat in some aspects. The major one comes with all the minor characters. Any character that isn’t Spenser or Hawk can be hit or miss. The performance everyone was waiting to see was that of Post Malone’s. However, for all the build-up, Post Malone has about two scenes. While he does a decent job, there was never a moment where I wasn’t thinking, “This is Post Malone.”

Along with this, many other characters weren’t the best. Arkin and Shlesinger were given very little to do outside of helping the main characters every now and again. Other characters are also barely given an introduction. One example of this is from the character of Wayne Cosgrove, played by Marc Maron. Maron is shown in a flashback scene in the middle of the movie and later shows up throughout the film’s end. However, there is never a point where he is given a proper introduction and I didn’t find out his name until I looked it up after.

Another problem in the film comes from the story. There are a lot of different things going on in the film. It goes from focusing on the corrupt cop plot line to going into a subplot about Spenser wanting to become a truck driver. Some things, such as the truck driver subplot, don’t really pay off in a satisfying way.

All in all though, “Spenser Confidential” is a fun movie to watch. The lead actors’ chemistry with each other can cover some of the film’s overall flaws and keep the viewer watching the whole way through.

To watch “Spenser Confidential,” click here.

Illustration by Ariel Landry
Illustration by Ariel Landry