From director Peter Berg (Mile 22, Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day), Spenser Confidential is an action-comedy starring Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, co-starring Bokeem Woodbine, Marc Maron, Iliza Shlesinger, and Austin Post. Inspired by Robert B. Parker’s “Wonderland“, a best-selling novel by Ace Atkins.
Premise: Spenser (Wahlberg) – an ex-cop better known for making trouble than solving it – just got out of prison and is leaving Boston for good. But first he gets roped into helping his old boxing coach and mentor, Henry (Alan Arkin), with a promising amateur. That’s Hawk (Winston Duke), a brash, no-nonsense MMA fighter convinced he’ll be a tougher opponent than Spenser ever was. When two of Spenser’s former colleagues turn up murdered, he recruits Hawk and his foul-mouthed ex-girlfriend, Cissy (Iliza Shlesinger), to help him investigate and bring the culprits to justice.
Review: If you had stumbled upon the film without having seen a trailer or read a blurb about it, the premise of the movie is made perfectly clear in less than five minutes in the opening flashback scene. It’s seamless, you know some of the key plays – Spenser and the Boston Police – and what it’s about – corruption. They also do a great job in those first ten minutes and the rest of the movie at showing how tight of a community the police force is, keeping you suspicious when one shows up since you’ve just learn it’s about corruption. Spenser Confidential could have easily been a serious dramatic movie on the subject but the comedy shows its head rather quickly, whether it’s in Spenser’s and other characters’ quips or unassuming jokes that are set up a few scenes back that cracks you up when the punchline is revealed (e.g. Pearl).
Story wise, there are a few minor twists that are trying to keep this movie from being too predictable, and they work on some level, but it’s still a somewhat predictable film. Earlier I mentioned the comedy and Spenser Confidential has its moments, I chuckled a lot watching it and recognized a lot of funny moments that didn’t necessarily make me laugh but I could see the comedy in it.
The cast is good, they pull off the comedy and the action, Wahlberg and Duke make an interesting pair and they work. I don’t remember seeing Iliza Shlesinger in a movie so I was interested to see her in this, and damn she’s good. She’s funny and all but I didn’t see a comedian acting in a movie, I saw an actress with great comedic timing forgetting that she’s a legit comedian. Post Malone was kind of the same, it’s a small role but he’s memorable, face tattoo aside.
The action sequences are good but not on the level of Mile 22, but it’s nice to see what Peter Berg can do with an action comedy. So Spenser Confidential is a nice movie to start off your weekend and laugh a bit.