Movie Review: Spenser Confidential

By Kevin Barry

Staff Writer

Spenser Confidential (based on the Ace Atkins novel “Wonderland”) came out on Netflix during the start of the lockdown (March 6th, 2020). Reaching 85 million households, Spenser Confidential was one of the biggest hits of early quarantine. Among many others, Mark Whalberg, Winston Duke, Iliza Shlesinger, and even Post Malone play key roles in the movie. The film revolves around Boston’s own Mark Whalberg who plays a Boston ex-police officer with a strong moral compass and a bad temper. The film’s an action movie that revolves around crime, but there’s a ton of funny moments in it (compliments to Mark Whalberg). 

In the beginning, Spenser has reason to believe his boss was a dirty cop, and when he went to his house early on a Sunday morning he found a drunk boss and a wife with bruises. With a strong moral sense and some unresolved anger issues, Spenser throws his boss on the ground, throwing punch after punch until his partner throws him off. 

That little act lands him 5 years in prison; it cuts to Spenser’s last day in Prison, when the other prisoners give him a goodbye present. By goodbye present I mean they jumped him, or tried to at least, as being a cop he got the jump on them and didn’t get badly hurt. Whalberg in this scene played himself, being cocky, funny, and the underdog all at once.

Cissy Davis played by Iliza Shlesinger (Spenser’s long term girlfriend) plays a lifelong Bostonian which becomes clear once you hear her speak. Her and Spenser’s relationship is… entertaining to say the least, and she plays a key role as the funny supporting character, and is even involved in Spenser’s big plan at the end of the movie. Shlesinger had a side role in Instant Family starring Whalberg back in 2018 so this isn’t their first time working together, which is not at all surprising by their chemistry. 

This was Shlesinger’s big break and she made the most of it by being, in my opinion, one of the best parts of the whole movie. Shlesinger is known for being a Comedian and Television Host but Spenser Confidential has opened up another door for her in the acting world. 

Winston Duke played “Hawk,” the Robin to Mark Whalberg’s Batman. I would’ve liked to see more from him and more from his relationship with Mark Whalberg but the part that he got he played very well. If you’ve seen Winston Duke you know he is a very big and tall man, which made it funny to watch him and Mark Whalberg together as obviously Whalberg isn’t the biggest guy. I loved Winston Duke and for me, he was the star of the movie, with the pure chemistry he had with not only Whalberg but everyone in the film.

Director Peter Berg as of September of 2020 told ‘Collider’ that Spenser Confidential 2 is “definitely” happening. Since Whalberg is already working on another movie, Berg said they expect the production to begin taking place late 2021 to early 2022 at the latest. Some good news, the script writer Brian Helgeland turned in the first draft of his script the first week of September (2020), so things are moving in the right direction.

There were a few parts in which the film was just simply not up to par. The MMA fight scenes with the 80’s music over it while cool, usually just felt out of place. The plot didn’t always tie together and I think they did a poor job of connecting everything, and lastly the film was somewhat predictable. Now with that being said I do think that it was entertaining and a fun watch. This movie is getting a 7/10 from me. Super fun watch, especially if you like Whalberg, but generally just lacking in some areas.

‘Spenser Confidential’ is currently available on Netflix and is rated R.

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