Spenser Confidential is definitely a rocky ride, but at the end of the day, it’s a ride I’m glad I took. This is the most generic, predictable, over the top crime thriller, yet it’s also a ton of fun. Now Netflix movies have been real spotty as of late but I’m happy to report this is one of their best. I would expect this movie to be pretty big for Netflix just like movies like Bird Box, Murder Mystery, and Bright. This movie feels like a movie that could easily play in theaters, but by releasing it on streaming it will probably do much better. In fact, I would probably be a lot more critical of this movie if it was released in theaters, but this is a great streaming movie. You don’t have to risk your money for this movie, only your time, and I do believe this is worth the time.
If you don’t know by know Mark Wahlberg is from Boston and he is very proud of it. This movie takes place in Boston and is jammed packed with hilarious stereotypes and references. I am also from Boston so I got a real kick out of this movie. They even have an action sequence with Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond playing in the background. The movie also features tons of Boston slang and all the actors sport the Bostian accent. Many famous actors such as Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Chris Evans, Steve Carell, Uma Therman, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks, and more have originated from Massachusets, but Whalberg has been very good to the state. Wahlberg has made movies like The Fighter and Patriots Day that prominently feature Boston, and Spenser Confidential is the latest.
Now one misconception I had going into this movie was that it was going to be a comedy, but that was not the case. It does have funny moments, however, this movie really tries to be a serious crime thriller. This creates a wildly uneven tone for the movie. In some parts it’s a serious crime thriller, some parts it’s a light-hearted comedy, and some parts it’s a full-on raunchy comedy. And I do believe at some points this movie does cross the line. There is this scene between Wahlberg’s Spencer and his girlfriend in the bathroom that just went too far. The scene was just unnecessary and awkward. The movie would also show gruesome and explicit deaths, often featuring women, which again was just too far. Spenser Confidential is at it’s best when it is a light-hearted buddy cop movie, not a raunchy comedy or gruesome crime thriller.
The acting is quite good in this movie with all of the cast doing a fine job. Mark Wahlberg is Mark Wahlberg and he is the king of the Boston accent. Wahlberg really does carry this movie and his Spenser is very likable and charismatic. Alan Arkin is the standout in this movie as his character is pretty hilarious. Iliza Shlesinger also does a fantastic job, even though she is a little annoying in the beginning, I came to really like her character by the end. Brookem Woodbine finally gets a bigger role in a project and he does not disappoint as the villain. The only weak spot in the movie is Winston Duke. He’s not necessarily bad in the movie, but I know he can do so much more. Duke gives a very muted performance and he doesn’t really pop. Which is weird because if you’ve seen Black Panther or particularly US, you know Duke is very charismatic. Post Malone is also in this movie and has a good-sized role. Malone is very game when it comes to this movie and he does a pretty good job.
As far as the directing goes, it’s pretty solid. Peter Berg has a lot of experience and that shows throughout the movie. Just like Ben Affleck and Gavin O’Connor, Bill Murray and Wes Anderson, Johnny Deep and Tim Burton, Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg are very much an acting and directing duo. Berg was partnered with Wahlberg on movies Patriots Day, Deepwater Horizon, Mile 22, and Lone Survivor. However, I do feel Wahlberg is kind of holding Peter Berg back, Berg got off to such a strong start and it seems like he can be doing a little bit better than this Netflix movie. I’m sure Berg owes a great debt to Wahlberg and they have made some great movies together, but maybe it’s time they part ways for a little while. Spenser Confidential is very well directed and Berg uses some neat tricks to plus the movie. The only weak spot directing wise is the action sequences, the action is very weak which is unfortunate because there was potential there.
Overall, this film is a solid streaming movie. It is definitely in line with Netflix movies like Bright and Murder Mystery, and I actually think it might be a tad better. The cast really shines in this movie with the standouts being Mark Wahlberg, Alan Arkin, and Iliza Shlesinger. This movie does have a very uneven tone and it does cross the line at some points. But the beauty of streaming is if you want, you can just skip over it. And since you don’t have to pay or go out to see this movie, it’s definitely worth a shot. Also, at the end of this movie, it sets up a sequel which I would absolutely be down for. However, going forward they should try and commit to a more light-hearted buddy cop style movie, and if they do, I think this could be a sweet franchise for Netflix.