Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Alan Arkin, Winston Duke
Director: Peter Berg
Running Time: 111 mins
Spenser Confidential is an American film about an ex-cop who, after having served jail time for assaulting a superior officer he suspected of corruption, returns to life on the outside in the midst of a storm where that very officer has just been murdered, and he is the prime suspect.
Director Peter Berg and lead actor Mark Wahlberg have made some fantastic films over the years, but Spenser Confidential – while enjoyable – really isn’t their best effort together.
Although blending fun action with a story that inspires far more intrigue than your average cop comedy/thriller, Spenser Confidential is for the most part a rather predictable watch, never really instilling the hard-hitting intensity that Berg has achieved in his best films, nor providing enough laughs to make the film a full-on comedy.
And that’s a real shame, because I was delighted that Spenser Confidential didn’t just sit back and throw out lazy jokes. It is a comedy on the surface, and the biggest laughs and entertainment come in the form of the relationships between characters, but for the most part, the film still has a harder edge.
Peter Berg has collaborated with Mark Wahlberg for some brilliant action films over recent years (Lone Survivor, Patriots Day, Deepwater Horizon), and there are hallmarks of the same brilliance here as well.
But perhaps because it’s not a true story, Spenser Confidential never has the same stirring power as the films listed above, and comes off as a rather more predictable cop flick, with heavy-handed morality and less-than-stellar twists.
On the plus side, the film isn’t just about explosions and comedy, because it tries to bring in interesting discussions about police corruption, abuse of power and the impact of institutional misconduct on normal people.
Those themes, rather disappointingly, aren’t explored in spectacular depth – largely due to the film trying to balance its more serious side with some comedy – but they do make Spenser Confidential a far more worthy watch than your average genre film.
In the lead role, Wahlberg is just as charismatic and likable as always, while co-stars Winston Duke and Iliza Schlesinger really stand out alongside. The dynamic between them all adds to the film’s energy, even if their characters are as predictable as the screenplay as a whole.
Still, that doesn’t take away from the fact that Spenser Confidential is, for the most part, a decent and enjoyable action film. It’s not a hilarious comedy, nor is it an enthralling cop flick, and it definitely doesn’t live up to Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg’s fantastic work together in the past.
But, with good energy, strong performances and a story that tries to inject a little more depth and intrigue into the mix, the film is an engaging (albeit disappointingly predictable) watch throughout. So, that’s why I’m giving Spenser Confidential a 7.2 overall.