Friday, March 27, 2020

Spenser Confidential (2020)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Spenser Confidential (2020)
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
Length: 111 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Film 44, Netflix, Original Film
Director: Peter Berg
Writer: Sean O’Keefe, Brian Helgeland, Ace Atkins, Robert B. Parker
Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, Alan Arkin, Iliza Shlesinger, Michael Gaston, Bokeem Woodbine, Marc Maron, James Dumont, Post Malone, Colleen Camp, Hope Olaide Wilson, Kip Weeks, Brandon Scales, Ayana Brown, Dustin Tucker, Alfred Briere, Rebecca Gibel, Alexandra Vino, Patty Ross

Blurb from IMDb: When two Boston police officers are murdered, ex-cop Spenser teams up with his no-nonsense roommate, Hawk, to take down criminals.

Selina’s Point of View:
We were going to watch and review The Farewell (2019) today, but we thought that it might not be the best movie to get everyone’s mind off the pandemic. It’s just a little too close to what a lot of people are going through. It is a good movie, though. If it’s something that you feel capable of watching and you think you can handle it, it’s streaming on Prime Video. We’ll likely return to that film at a later date and give a full review at that time.

Instead, we settled on Spenser Confidential. Which is a MUCH different kind, class, genre, and quality flick.

The trailer looked pretty basic, but not too bad. I figured it would be a mindless, action romp. Which it was. The film didn’t disappoint me, because I didn’t expect anything that it wasn’t.

It was mostly predictable. For example, Mark Wahlberg’s character says something near the beginning of the film and immediately I was like: “yup, that’s gonna happen in the climax.” And it did. There was a lot of shit like that, that’s just the most ‘in-your-face’ of them.

Some of the accents were over the top and ridiculous, but I feel like they were meant to be. It fed more into the comedy aspect of the project.

Honestly, even with the paint-by-numbers plot, I kind of enjoyed it. The action was fast-paced and easy to follow. It took my mind off the shit going on around me. The script had some hilarious jokes in it, too.

I LOVED the performance of, and the character played by, Winston Duke (Us, Black Panther, Person of Interest). It is the exact kind of character that most movies would have turned into a meathead sledgehammer. Instead, we got this new age-y, tough-but-approachable, strange kind of guy. He felt like he had depth, but I would have like to hear more about his backstory. What landed him in that house with the main character? They yada-yada’d that a little too hard for my liking. Especially since he seemed too upstanding to really be there. It’s a plot hole.

Mark Wahlberg (Instant Family, Deepwater Horizon, Ted) was who he normal is in these films. I did like that his character never quite seemed unstoppable. In action movies, especially at the very end, the main character can sometimes feel a bit bulletproof, but Wahlberg’s character never does. He gets hurt, a lot. He gets tossed around, a lot. He loses fights… a lot. I think that’s important to show in these movies and it’s something that not a lot of them do.

Then there was the issue of Post Malone (FishCenter, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Cody Hughes’ Pangea). He did great in his part, but I’ve seen way too much of him in videos and interviews, just being himself. I have trouble buying him as a bad guy. It’s not his fault, he did great, but I watched him on Good Mythical Morning (2012-) and I just can’t see it. That’s on me. That’s part of why I don’t bother with celebrity news and interviews – I don’t want to accidentally take anything into account when I watch a movie other than what you see on screen.

In the end of the film, there’s a 30-second scene that leaves it open for a sequel. The scene feels so forced and badly done that it’s hard to not be left with a bit of unintentional cringe. If they had just edited that part out, it would have been much better.

Still, if you want to get lost in a brain-less, kind-of-funny action film, this could be a great watch. Don’t expect a reinvented wheel and you’ll be fine.

Cat’s Point of View:
I just had an experience, and let me tell you – I’m fairly giddy about it. To be fair, it’s not entirely driven by this particular Netflix Original. It’s the nostalgia ride that I just went on without even entirely realizing why. Boy, do I feel silly for not catching this earlier.

The final credits had rolled and the more I thought about it, the more the characters felt familiar, and yet I couldn’t quite figure out why. It was something I’d missed when I looked at this film for the March 2020 Top 20 Movies to look out for. This was my #6. I’d say it was deservedly so.
Before I get into my journey of feels, let’s talk about this movie specifically.

Hooray, first of all, that as a Netflix original this has been available to stream immediately and didn’t suffer any of the delays or roadblocks that some of the theatrical release films have been experiencing due to the fairly worldwide viral lockdown.

My next thought is that I did end up enjoying the pairing of Winston Duke (Person of Interest, Black Panther, Nine Days) and Mark Wahlberg (Daddy's Home, All the Money in the World, Instant Family) as Hawk and Spenser respectively. There were so many subtleties to their performances that just elevated their roles well off the pages of their dialogue.

While there was considerable darkness in the story, there was also a good balance of humor. Helping that was the take-no-prisoners performance by Iliza Shlesinger (Paradise, Forever 31, Instant Family). I really have to say I was impressed. Most of all, though, I loved Alan Arkin’s (Rendition, Argo, Going In Style) dry and wry humor he brought to the story.

The production quality was great and effectively transported me into this Bostonian world. I had a giggle about the Boston soundtrack offerings, as well.

What blew my mind and had me face-palming at the same time is the fact that this movie is loosely based on the same books as a show that I enjoyed watching as a kid (even if my parents weren’t aware that I was).  Yep. This is the same Spenser as in Spenser: For Hire (1985-1988).  My dad loved to watch this show at night and I would be camped out behind his recliner peeking around the side to watch along waaay past my bedtime. Spenser and T.J. Hooker (1982-1986) were the two shows I remember doing this for the most.

I’d say Wahlberg captured well the essence of the beloved character Robert Urich (Ice Pirates, The Lazarus Man, Night of the Wolf) portrayed for so many years. I hadn’t thought about a revival of these stories mostly because it’s hard to see someone else in Urich’s shoes. Good on you, Wahlberg. If this becomes a franchise, carry the name well. 

I don’t remember the character of Hawk as clearly, unfortunately – so I can’t really draw any comparisons there. I’m afraid as a youngster I fixated on Urich a bit because he so closely resembled my dad.  Even so, Duke has excelled in every role I’ve seen him in so far and I expect great things from him in the future. There was so much depth to his character that I sincerely hope gets explored in the next (hopeful) installment of these characters' shenanigans.

I’d recommend this movie in a heartbeat. It has the heart of the old, but brought into the current times. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 38%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 59%
Metascore – 49/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.4/10
IMDB Score – 6.2/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5
Movie Trailer:

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