Mark Wahlberg’s first movie for Netflix, a charmless little shrug of a caper referred to as Spenser Confidential, is the form of movie that evaporates because it’s being watched, destined by no means to be considered once more.
It’s regrettable given these concerned, from director Peter Berg, who has labored with Wahlberg 4 instances earlier than, together with on 2016’s criminally underseen Deepwater Horizon, to author Brian Helgeland, who received an Oscar for his LA Confidential script earlier than getting nominated for Mystic River.
It’s additionally a narrative primarily based round a a lot-liked personal eye created by Robert B Parker, one who supplied inspiration to crime authors reminiscent of Dennis Lehane and Harlan Coben. But it might take a grasp sleuth to detect any of that pedigree within the completed product.
Wahlberg, slumming it earlier than later this 12 months starring in each a summer sci-fi thriller and an Oscar-bait drama, is Spenser, a Boston cop getting out of jail after assaulting a colleague he claimed was crooked.
His plan is to go away town and the ghosts inside it however when the cop he attacked is discovered murdered, he quickly will get sucked right into a murky underworld of medicine, violence and corruption.
It’s an motion-comedy-thriller-thriller that manages to spectacularly fail in any respect the above, an algorithmic abomination that’s as coldly constructed as it’s clumsily made.
It’s really shocking simply how flat the entire thing is, provided that Berg has expertise with greater budgeted movies with a extra bold scope, however there’s a deadening lack of spark to his course right here which he tries to cover with energetic and recognisable soundtrack selections.
The character of Spenser appeared within the 80s in a community present referred to as Spenser: For Hire and one can see this envisioned as a franchise-starter for Netflix, given the wealth of tales from Parker and later Ace Adkins, who took over writing duties.
But Berg by no means as soon as reveals us why this ought to be the case. Spenser is equivalent to each different wisecracking, punch-throwing, gold-hearted powerful man that we now have seen earlier than and the plot he finds himself up towards is equally drained.
It’s a dusty, join-the-dots plot that provides nothing in the way in which of shock even when Helgeland, and co-author Sean O’Keefe, attempt to embrace some throwaway references to faux information, gentrification and the opioid disaster.
Spenser is paired with wannabe MMA fighter Hawk, a partnership that’s constructed as much as be fractious however surely is bizarrely simple, the 2 getting on nearly instantaneously, denying us of any quippy battle.
Playing Hawk is rising star Winston Duke, who broke out in Black Panther after which Us, however he’s given nothing to do right here aside from throw the odd punch, a unusually thankless position given how the character performed such an integral half within the unique Spenser sequence of books.
There’s additionally a sleepwalking Alan Arkin as Spenser’s mentor, an unfunny flip from comedian Iliza Shlesinger as his ex and Bokeem Woodbine, saddled with a predictably structured flip as his outdated accomplice.
As Spenser himself, Wahlberg is coasting, sticking to a canine-eared playbook, as bored as we’re watching him. A snappier script may have and will have discovered smarter methods to utilise a proficient troupe of actors reminiscent of this however as an alternative, they’re wasted, unable to raise the pedestrianism of what they’re saddled with.
It simply kind of sits there, desperately needing an injection of one thing: humour, type, higher motion, power, life. Spenser Confidential will discover an viewers on Netflix, given Wahlberg’s involvement, however that is soulless discount basement stuff.