Spenser Confidential is quite possibly the most Boston movie that ever did Boston. The only thing missing from the narrative was Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch reprising their SNL characters Sully and Zazu screaming “NOMAR!.” The best way to describe Peter Berg’s latest is what you see is what you get. Spenser Confidential isn’t going to blow anyone away. The storyline is one we’ve seen Mark Whalberg in many times before. That doesn’t make his latest project forgettable. If anything, there’s such a familiarity with Whalberg’s work that it should attract a diverse audience.
Whalberg plays an ex-cop who, after serving five years in prison, is drawn back into danger after two Boston cops are murdered. He’s helped along the way by his former boxing instructor, played by Alan Arkin and an MMA fighter named Hawk (Winston Duke). Ilza Shlesinger plays Spenser’s ex-girlfriend and steals every scene she’s in. While the film is inspired by Robert B. Parker’s book Wonderland, it seems writer Sean O’Keefe took a few liberties when crafting this screenplay.
The best part of the film is without question the chemistry between Duke, Whalberg, and Arkin. Without this, the film will have taken quite a nosedive. The writing created this light tone, which detracted from the overall premise of the project. Usually, these action-centric projects that director Peter Berg is involved at least hold our attention with explosive moments, that wasn’t the case with Spenser Confidential.
While most of the film came off as either rather tame or predictable, Spenser Confidential isn’t bad. If people accept the movie for what it is, then it accomplishes precisely what it sets out to do. Perhaps my expectations were a bit too high with this one. It is what it is, I guess.