Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Review: "Spenser Confidential" is Peter Berg's best Michael Bay movie

Spenser Confidential Review
Of all the filmmakers in the pantheon of Hollywood to replicate, I am not exactly sure why Peter Berg landed on Michael Bay, but many of Berg's films are eerily similar to Bay's. Except Berg leaves out weird sexual humor where it doesn't belong. It is equally funny to me that Mark Wahlberg has adopted a goofball action hero persona, especially when said persona is ejected into a gritty crime movie. But hey, its working for the guy isn't it?

"Spenser Confidential" feels like about a million Mark Wahlberg movies of recent memory. So much so, that I am quickly going to start having trouble distinguishing between all of them. It's the same problem Survivor has since they've shot about ten or so seasons on the same island, they all blend together. This film begins with a flashback, typical for gritty police stories. We see Wahlberg's Spenser march into someone's house, pull them out, and beats the crap out of them. There is a voice-over we hear during all of this. Spenser is a police officer who attacked his Captain, and he has no remorse. He goes to jail for assault and home invasion. Five years later, he's off but on parole. Spenser spent five years protecting himself from inmates and avoiding a crazy girlfriend. Now, he's on parole.

Conveniently, the exact same police captain Spenser put a hurtin' on five years prior has ended up dead. So of course, Spenser gets asked about his alibi the night prior, he's clean. When another police officer under the dead captain's unit ends up dead in an apparent suicide, this catches Spenser's attention. The slain officers family is distraught and Spenser feels for them. So Spencer goes total vigilante justice to find out who killed the captain and the officer and why. This leads him on a fairly typical journey through the world of drugs, casinos and police corruption. "Spenser Confidential" doesn't break any new ground.

That's not to say that the movie isn't entertaining. There is some expert quirkiness to it that I found hit my sweet spot. Winston Duke shows up as Hawk, who is Spenser's roommate at the parole house. He accompanies Spenser on his quest and Duke is remarkably funny at times. He's got a commanding onscreen presence and he is sure to continue climbing his way to stardom. Alan Arkin is Spenser's longtime friend and sponsor and he's...Alan Arkin. What more can I say? Iliza Shlesinger plays Spenser's girlfriend, and she does fine. She's the typical mad Boston girlfriend we usually see in movies like this but she does her job well. Bringing life to an otherwise thankless role. But Bokeem Woodbine as the film's villain? Yes, please!

"Spenser Confidential" is an easy watch. It's fun and it goes down smooth and the performances are enough to make it count. (Look for a cameo by Post Malone). It doesn't reinvigorate the police comedy or the police drama. It's fairly routine as far as the genre goes. This isn't the next "Die Hard" or "Lethal Weapon." It feels typical of what Netflix is looking to do these days. The film is equipped with a set-up for another movie down the line. I will say that I would much rather watch a series of "Spenser Confidential" movies rather than "Bright" movies. But we shall see what happens. This might be enough to get by for a fun Friday night when you don't want to go to the theater. 

FINAL GRADE: C

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