‘Spenser Confidential,’ a crime mystery with a not so secret plot

Nathan Ash

Picture this: an ex-cop in Boston, ostracized for assaulting somebody, is now on a mission to bring down police corruption and the Trinitario gang. Does this sound familiar? It’s the premise for the new Netflix movie “Spenser Confidential,” and offers no respite from the same tired cop action movies we see each year. Seeing Mark Wahlberg play the vigilante cop character is getting old. If you are exhausted from a long day and just want to watch mindless violence with a weak premise for 111 minutes straight, director Peter Berg has the film for you.

Austin Post(Post Malone) has his first acting debut, not acting in the movie really, just in the trailers to get people to the box office.

The film begins after the ex-cop Spenser is released from his five-year prison sentence for attacking his crooked boss, Captain Boylan, played by Michael Gaston. The night Spenser gets out of prison, Captain Boylan is murdered by machete-wielding men for leaking their criminal activities to the police. Spenser then spends the entire movie investigating who was responsible for Boylan’s death while being helped by his new roommate Hawk, who is by far the most lovable character in the movie. 

Spenser and Hawk are attacked by gangs throughout the movie and even the corrupt Boston Police Department is trying to cover up the murder mystery. Despite the filmmaker’s best attempts to hide the truth, by the first act of the movie viewers can already guess who the main antagonist is. 

This movie consists of fistfights, extremely generic lines, and some oddly placed graphic scenes throughout. Within the first twenty minutes, Mark Wahlberg is already getting into fights. He defends himself against an Aryan gang in the prison library led by a man named Squeeb, played by Austin Post. Then we see him attack Captain Boylan in a flashback. After these scenes, Spenser is picked up by his old friend. This character, Henry, played by Alan Arkin, has a generic personality of being a grumpy old man for the entire movie with no further development. Henry owns the apartment that Spenser lives in and has a Riviera car that Spenser drives. The only purpose of these scenes is to give Wahlberg some Aryan gang members to punch and was a failed attempt to add mystery to the storyline.

The relationship development is thrown in at random throughout this movie. Hawk and Spenser go from feuding roommates to best friends in a matter of minutes. There is an interesting backstory to Hawk and his father that they glossed over for 30 seconds and never came back to, which is also very frustrating. This movie is unfortunately very shallow. They had the chance to add some depth, but instead of diving into character backstories and how they may have influenced characters’ actions throughout the movie, the writers chose to explain stereotypical motives in a couple of lines of dialogue.

Netflix                                                                                                  Three one note characters sitting at a bus stop, with no personality traits except, one is big(Hawk on the left), one is old(Henry in the middle) and one likes to punch things(Spenser on the right).

They also give Spenser a cliche and crazy, Boston girlfriend, and despite her loud dialogue, she becomes extremely forgettable. Another one of Spenser’s friends is an old man named Henry, who attempts to offer some comic relief through his indifference to the dangerous situations he is put through. However, he never becomes more than a plain, faceless character.

The movie is filmed like a regular action movie, with handheld cameras used during the fight scenes and slow pans of Boston that push home the whole “Mark Wahlberg, Boston vigilante cop” idea that everyone already fully understands. Also, the music during the fight scenes is generic rock music. The song “Sweet Emotion” by Aerosmith is played a total of three times throughout the movie, and I have to say it not the most unique musical score. This movie wasn’t meant tobe a masterpiece but a little more artistic effort would’ve been appreciated.

Overall, this movie is just another generic action movie that follows a similar premise to “The Other Guys”, a comedy action movie about two cops uncovering the crimes of a large criminal organization, except without Will Ferell and without any genuinely funny humor. If you want to see some fistfights and a bare-bones mystery, “Spenser Confidential is a perfect film for you.