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Film Review: Spenser Confidential

14 March 20 words: Jamie Morris

Netflix fails to leave an impact with Mark Wahlberg's new comedy-thriller...

Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Iliza Shlesinger, Post Malone
Running time: 111 minutes

With all of the praise Marriage Story and The Irishman scooped up over awards season, it's safe to say Netflix has established itself as a reliable distributor of original films. Spenser Confidential is the latest addition to the catalogue, reuniting Deepwater Horizon director Peter Berg with Mark Wahlberg for a new detective flick; but the end result is a little sub-par.

Berg makes an attempt at stylisation with some pretty nice camerawork and punchy song cues, but the screenplay - adapted for film by Oscar-winner Brian Helgeland - is severely lacking in any narrative creativity. Ex-cop Spenser is trying to clear the name of Officer Terrance Graham, who's been framed for a gruesome murder-suicide, yet somehow there isn't a single exciting reveal or twist for the entire two-hour runtime.

This is carried somewhat by how much each actor clearly enjoys their role; even rapper Post Malone's cameos are fun. In particular, Winston Duke's portrayal of wingman Hawk is the film's saving grace, bringing his own brand of humour and charisma to a character that otherwise receives little to no development.

Leaves viewers feeling pretty disappointed that this clearly passionate cast and crew weren't given a better story

Still, the comedy as a whole is very hit-or-miss thanks to its over-reliance on recycled gags, and the romance subplot is just plain awful, objectifying the film's female lead in an attempt to make our already one-note action hero look a bit more cool.

Surprisingly, however, the film manages to land its key emotional beats. There aren't very many of them, but the scenes featuring Officer Graham's grieving family are actually quite poignant and tactfully placed amidst all of the slapstick comedy.

The film still manages to throw in some of the things it excels at after its mostly dull final act, leaving viewers feeling pretty disappointed that this clearly passionate cast and crew weren't given a better story to work with. As a whole, Spenser Confidential just about manages to be a passable comedy-thriller, but sadly it's far from being a remotely memorable one.

Did you know? The film is a loose adaptation of the Spenser novel series by Robert B. Parker

Spenser Confidential is available on Netflix now