Spenser Confidential Review

Spenser Confidential
Ex-cop Spenser (Mark Wahlberg) is leaving Boston for good after a 5 year-stint in prison. But before he can, two of Spenser’s former colleagues turn up murdered. Spenser reluctantly enlists the help of promising amateur MMA fighter Hawk (Winston Duke) to help him investigate and bring the culprits to justice.

by Kambole Campbell |
Published on
Release Date:

06 Mar 2020

Original Title:

Spenser Confidential

Perhaps the only surprising thing about Spenser Confidential, the latest Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg collaboration, is that it’s less an exercise in jingoism in the same manner as Lone Survivor and Patriots Day, and skews more toward parody of the bloated machismo that drove such movies. Adapted from Robert B. Parker’s ready-for-airports book series with nearly 50 entries, Spenser Confidential unfortunately can’t back up its intentional evocation of the likes of Lethal Weapon, but there are bright moments here and there: witness Wahlberg throwing Post Malone through a bookshelf.

Like The Other Guys before it, Spenser is centred around an intentional parody of a Mark Wahlberg character, a loud and aggressive but ultimately well-meaning fool who often falls short in would-be acts of hyper-masculinity. As Spenser’s roommate and partner Hawk, Winston Duke continues to cultivate his charming, gentle giant persona, even if Berg doesn’t hand him much to do. The relationship between the central pair is only mildly adversarial, as Hawk simply goes along with Spenser’s wild, loose cannon investigation. Ultimately, though, the mystery doesn’t amount to anything subversive or gripping.

The film’s lack of self-seriousness turns out to be a double-edged sword however, bringing many jokes that have been old since the beginning of the last decade, right up to Spenser’s utter confusion at things like oat milk, vegetables and “The Cloud”. Coupled with a disappointingly regressive portrayal of the types that would make up a gang of murderers, especially after starting on the surprisingly subversive note that Spenser’s former employers the Boston Police were equally criminal, the overall feel of the film is akin to the pilot of an American cop show – right down to the bland, functional camerawork and embarrassing dad rock soundtrack.

Despite serviceable comic performances from Wahlberg and Duke, Spenser Confidential feels like a relic, full of tired stereotypes and clichés that will leave you waiting for a punchline which never arrives.
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