26 September 2023

Spenser Confidential

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Director: Peter Berg, Netflix.

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, Alan Arkin, Iliza Shlesinger.

This is an interesting scenario: a former police detective who gets out of jail and tries to unravel a murder conspiracy for which he returns to Boston’s criminal underworld.

Spenser (Wahlberg) is known more for the fact that he makes trouble, instead of solving problems, he plays by his own rules. Now that he’s out of prison, he is going to leave Boston for good. However, he gets roped into helping his old boxing coach and mentor, Henry (Arkin) with a promising amateur. That’s Hawk (Duke), a brash, no-nonsense fighter who is certain he’ll be a tougher opponent than Spenser ever was.

When two of Spenser’s former colleagues turn up murdered, he recruits Hawk and his ex-girlfriend, Cissy (Shlesinger) to help him investigate and bring the culprits to justice.

Shlesinger solely injects life life into Sean O’Keefe and Brian Helgeland’s slack script. Duke shines on his own, but chemistry with Wahlberg is almost absent.

The film was based on the book series by Robert B. Parker that was later adapted into the ’80s television series Spenser: For Hire. The action-comedy, at its heart, is about family. As Duke says, “the overall message is that family is family, no matter how you make it. A lot of us are born with family, some of us inherit family, some of us create family and this movie is a family story”.

Co-writer Sean O’Keefe agrees. “It’s a movie about brotherhood between these characters, Spencer and Hawk, the likely bond that they form over the course of the movie.”

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