After successfully teaming up for "Patriots Day," "Deepwater Horizon" and "Lone Survivor" (we'll forget about "Mile 22" for now), actor/producer Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg finally release a dud with the Netflix action-comedy, "Spenser Confidential."
Based loosely - ever so loosely - on a character created by Robert B. Parker in a series of popular novels dating back to the 1970s, "Spenser Confidential" is a not-so-successful attempt by Wahlberg and Berg to create a new relatively low-budget action franchise. Landing on Netflix, this new film might be good enough to have on in the background, or if you're looking to veg out in front of your TV this weekend, but it's really a misguided, tonally chaotic misadventure starring a character, Spenser, who isn't all that interesting to begin with.
RELATED: Read Tom's review of "Mile 22"
If the name Spenser rings a bell for you, you're probably thinking of the short-lived, cult-classic 1980s TV series, "Spenser for Hire" starring Robert Urich. Yes, this is the same character, give or take. In this incarnation, Spenser (Wahlberg) is a disgraced Boston detective who tries to uncover the truth behind an assassination of a fellow cop. A few character names transfer over from the book and the show - like Hawk (Winston Duke) - and it also stars Alan Arkin, Iliza Shlesinger, Michael Gaston, Bokeem Woodbine and features a short supporting performance from superstar Post Malone.
This Spenser adventure is actually based on Parker's 2013 book, "Wonderland," perhaps a bit too closely. Unlike the TV show or the books, this version of Spenser is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, relying on quick-talking insults and razor-sharp wit from its cast of thinly-imagined characters to fill in the gaps in-between the several chases, fights and action sequences that hold the film together. Wahlberg has shown flashes of brilliance in comedy (see "The Other Guys" opposite Will Ferrell), but here he's asked to carry the entire comedic beat of the film and its simply too much for him to bear.
RELATED: Read Tom's review of "Patriot's Day"
In comparison to their previous body of work, this is clearly the slightest, least weighty collaboration between Berg and Wahlberg, so it just feels like a swing-and-miss. It exists somewhere between comedy and action-crime genres, not quite excelling at either. It also features an on-the-nose soundtrack that only goes to increase the overall ineffectiveness of the film.
"Spenser Confidential" wants to be more than just a throw-away action movie and actually lays the groundwork for more movies in the series to come. But even though Netflix is a legitimate, movie-making powerhouse, home of some of the very best films of the past few years, "Spenser Confidential" doesn't live up. Back before Netflix, there was a name for movies like this: They were called "direct-to-video," bypassing the paying public at the multiplexes, and with good reason.
Genre: Action, Mystery, Crime, Comedy.
Run Time: 1 hour 51 minutes.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Iliza Shlesinger, Winston Duke, Alan Arkin, Post Malone, Bokeem Woodbine, Mark Maron, Michael Gaston.
Directed by Peter Berg ("Mile 22," "Patriots Day," "Deepwater Horizon," "Lone Survivor," "Battleship," "Friday Night Lights").
"Spenser Confidential" is available to stream on NETFLIX as of Friday, March 6th, 2020.
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