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Movie Review: “Spenser Confidential”

“Spenser Confidential”

Release Date: March 6, 2020

Runtime: 111 mins

Directed by: Peter Berg

Starring: Mark Wahlberg

Winston Duke

Alan Arkin

Bokeem Woodbine

Considering the current circumstances the world finds itself in, I do not have too many options for movies to review, at least if I want to continue covering new releases, which I do. For the rest of the semester, I am essentially limited to Netflix original movies. I am not saying all Netflix originals are bad; that simply is not true. However, judging from the movies Netflix has put out most recently—the ones I have to review—let me just say I am relieved there are only two weeks left of the semester. 

With that said, the movie I will be reviewing today is “Spenser Confidential.” I could say I only watched this because my dad put it on and I happened to be in the room at the same time and so decided to pay part of my attention to it. I feel like that is the kind of audience the people behind “Spenser Confidential” had in mind. You look up from your phone when an action scene starts and quickly get bored after it ends. I did my best to stay off my phone throughout the movie’s runtime, but I think it was not meant to be watched that way. I do not think it would have fared well in a theater setting. It is far from the worst movie I have ever seen, but I imagine I will remember almost nothing about it when I wake up in the morning. If I had to sum this movie up in one word, it would be bland. 

The cast is bland. Mark Wahlberg is not a great actor, in my opinion. The only great performance I have seen from him was in “Boogie Nights,” but I have also heard he was good in “The Departed,” though I have not seen it yet. Judging from the high caliber directors behind those two movies, I would guess he does better when given good direction. He is not as laughably bad here as he was in “The Happening,” but he comes pretty close in spots. It certainly does not help that his character in “Spenser Confidential” is simply a slight variation on the generic “cop with a secret heart of gold who does not play by the rules but gets results anyway” trope. Alan Arkin seems to just play himself or at least the exact same character he has played over and over for the last decade. Winston Duke is fine. Bokeem Woodbine is fine. Iliza Shlesinger is hamming it up way too hard. No characters really stand out. Post Malone is also in this movie for less than five minutes, and it is pretty distracting. 

The story is bland. It entails little more than one good ex-cop fighting against a police department entangled in corruption. I did not care about anything that was going on. The dialogue was often lazy and the plot overly convoluted. Things happened and I would wonder why they happened and would often just end up more confused. The movie could have been 20 minutes shorter and nothing would have changed whatsoever. The forced sequel baiting certainly could have been cut. It probably would even be a little better. The directing was also pretty sub-par. 

For a modern, formulaic action movie, I can say the cinematography and editing are above average. By that I mean I was able to see what was going on, and it did not look overly dark and incomprehensible. Some of the action was kind of fun, too.

You can safely skip “Spenser Confidential.” Hopefully next week I will be able to find something more interesting to talk about.

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