As Netflix’s cultural significance continues to skyrocket, so has their availability to create more and more entertainment for viewers to consume like hungry college students around free pizza.
The recent success, critical and financial, of films like “The Irishman,” “Roma” and “Dolemite Is My Name” have led to a new landmark status for the streaming platform, with many critics and filmmakers now opened up to its legitimacy as a form of sharing art.
Unfortunately, this landmark also means that the service has the ability to fund some...let’s say less desirable projects. As with all major studios, Netflix now has the ability to pump out projects with a furious tenacity, leading to some films and shows that aren’t quite as high of a caliber as those projects previously mentioned.
The most recent of these is “Spenser Confidential,” the fifth collaboration of Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, following “Lone Survivor,” “Deepwater Horizon,” “Patriot’s Day” and “Mile 22,” the last of which is the first story not based on true events.
The story follows ex-cop Spenser (Wahlberg), who, after a five-year stint in prison, teams up with his new roommate Hawk (Winston Duke) and old boxing coach/mentor Henry (Alan Arkin) to solve the suspicious murder of the former police captain and a fellow officer.
What follows is a nearly 2-hour, painfully derivative, cliche-driven and downright obnoxious exercise in self-indulgence for Mark Wahlberg, filled with terrible dialogue, eye-sores for action sequences and a lack of logic so abhorrent that I had to stop watching at multiple points.
It is shocking how much Peter Berg’s ability to make a coherent film has deteriorated. Where his previous films featured mature, patient and methodical filmmaking methods and approaches to action/character, “Spenser Confidential” injects itself with four syringes of steroids and shouts at the audience multiple times to shut up and watch buff dudes take on five henchmen at once. Subtlety and logic are out the window from the opening moments of the film.
This is Mark Wahlberg’s dream role. A heroic cop, disgraced for doing the right thing, who can take on three men twice his size with ease, who takes on a difficult task not because he wants to but because it’s the right thing to do. Oh, and he’s a Bostonian, a character trait the film wants you to understand so painfully much that, before a scene in which characters eat lobster, a large and ugly title card bursts onto the screen with one word: Lobstah. I wish I was kidding.
Every performance is obnoxiously over the top. Every joke falls flat on its face. Every line of dialogue is delivered with such sincerity and seriousness despite the utter ridiculousness of its conception and situation. Every action scene is incompetently cut. Every music choice is on-the-nose and incredibly distracting.
These sins could be forgiven if the film had even a shred of self-awareness, but everything is played so seriously that it's hard to ignore just how hard the filmmakers and actors are trying. It wants to be a serious crime drama, but also wants to be an absurd action-comedy. The worst part is that it fails in both regards.
The absurdity of the events on screen is even further boosted by an absurd lack of logical and clear storytelling. One sequence involving an interrogation via shoving a crime-bosses head in a bucket of water, is so logically broken and stupid that I genuinely paused the movie, closed out Netflix, went to the gym and came back before finishing the film.
I could go further in depth about why this film is as terrible as it is, such as Iliza Shlesinger’s horrifically obnoxious and forced Boston accent, the utter wasting of an actually decent acting debut from singer/songwriter Post Malone and the laughably predictable story twists and incoherent construction of scenes, but thinking about this movie has raised both my heart rate and blood pressure, so I think I’ll leave it at this:
“Spenser Confidential” is a horrible movie. It is painfully obnoxious (a phrase I’ve perhaps overused but can’t exactly help it), dastardly dull and clear evidence that Mark Wahlberg needs reining in from living his Bostonian tough guy dream out on screen. I truly hated this movie with every fiber of my being. Do yourself a favor: just watch any of the other wonderful films Netflix has distributed. Please.