Spenser Confidential Review
Spenser Confidential is a story about crooked cops and mobsters; cop turned convict Spenser (Mark Wahlberg) navigates them all to find the truth and prove an old friend innocent. He served his time in jail for assault on Chief Boylan (Michael Gaston) who just happens to find his way to a very grisly murder on the day of Spenser's release from jail. These twisted plot strands weave together to reveal a convoluted crime ring dominating Boston and corrupting their police departments, Spenser teams up with wannabe MMA fighter Hawk (Winston Duke) and his old mentor Henry (Alan Arkin) to investigate into and bring them down. The questions of who the real murderer is and why the police are so determined to hush everything up dominates Spenser's mind, a rookie cop found dead in his car gets the blame but the real monsters are yet to be found.
The plethora of shady characters doing dodgy dealings and their tenuous links make the plot convoluted and mind bending at times. It feels as if this film is trying to poke fun at serious investigator films, and gritty cop dramas with the confusing and complicated plot that is practically laughable and not always in a good way. However, there are some great comedic moment normally driven by Mark Wahlberg who is at his very best in this film. His witty reactions and shape one liners had me laughing out loud! The ongoing joke where he has his face beaten up runs throughout and he is decorated with scars and cuts, it is a funny element to put in the film: the idea that Spenser the badass cop and seasoned inmate is constantly losing fights is just made funnier considering he is featured giving the MMA fighter boxing advice.
The tone of this film is very weird and a little bit off kilter. It moves from laugh-out-loud moments and comedic one liners to brutal machete murders and back again in a jarring pattern. It left me feeling cold and a little uncomfortable. Paul Berg (director) does his best to create a fun film, the final act is definitely enjoyable with a mix of comedy, emotional beats and solidly strong action scenes. The supporting cast all do a great job with Iliza Shlesinger playing Cissy Davis standing out for her humour and the fantastic lines she delivers. Her performance as the crazy but loyal girl-friend (or ex-girlfriend, its hard to tell) of Spenser with amazing skill and develops a strong personality as one of the few female characters within the supporting cast. Every scene with her in is better because of her. The 'bad guys' are more disappointing, Michael Gaston's character is nothing special as the crooked chief and other performances from Bokeem Woodbine (Driscoll) and James DuMont (Bedwood) are both the paint by numbers villains you would expect in this type of film!
While the plot may be quite generic and very convoluted, it is still a fun film that is highly enjoyable to watch! There is something there for everyone: well-choreographed action scenes, comedic one-liners and emotional scenes that don't feel too forced. It is not the greatest film around or the most original but it is something I would really recommend to anyone who is looking for some easy watching after a hard day of work, or just a light film to watch with friend!!