2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

When you think of the great cinematic collaborations throughout history, some may think of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks or Jimmy Stewart and Alfred Hitchcock. Yet, there is a multitude of directors and actors who have worked together throughout their careers. Some partnerships have proven to deliver different degrees of success. Still, there is one that seems to be going strong, Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg. 

Spenser Confidential is their fifth outing together, while their other films are Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day, and Mile 22. Titles that have had different degrees of success and acclaim, but nonetheless, these two artists do enjoy working together. The latest Netflix offering is unlike anything that the two have done together. Even though the pseudo-buddy cop comedy is one that both have worked on separately in the past. 

A film that is reminiscent of archetypal adventures such as Lethal Weapon and 48 Hrs. may prove that the formula still works. Spenser (Wahlberg) is the disgraced, tough-talking Boston police officer who was unnecessarily put in jail for actions of others. After coming out of jail and getting reintroduced to society, he comes out to a very different world. Boston has become a vicious world where the corrupt members of the police force are ruling the city in conjunction with Boston’s criminal underground. With no authority in crime-fighting, the former police officer chooses to take semi-truck driving lessons and hopes to move to Arizona. 

Henry (Alan Arkin) is Spenser’s gym owner who puts him up in his spare room while he finds his feet in the real world. This housing situation proves to be a bit more complicated when he realises that he has a roommate named Hawk (Winston Duke). Even though Spense desires to be in solitude, his massive and articulate flatmate does become an asset as he must investigate the murder of the police officer who had him incarcerated. While keeping his name clear for the killing, the Spenser decides to help to clear the name of the man framed for the crime. A Bostonian adventure that can only be explained as a punch in the face with the comedy, relationships and over-the-top situations. 

The Berg/Wahlberg combination provides an option for all of those seeking an action/comedy/buddy cop film that seems to have gone missing from cinemas. It contains hard-hitting language, more fistfights than Fight Club and even includes a machete-wielding gang of assassins. The script finds new and creative uses for the English language and every relationship is built on high-decibel shouting as a sign of endearment. 

Their films usually involve stories of pure testosterone and more guns than many small counties. Spenser Confidential is no different, except this one does contain a certain degree of humour. Duke and Arkin hold their own against the verbal delivery of Wahlberg. At the same time, the film’s stand out is Iliza Shlesinger as Spenser’s girlfriend, Cissy. She proves to be the most dominant character in the movie and moves from being unbearable to the most appealing role in the film. 

It should go without saying this film is laden with foul language, violence and sexual content. Not one for the young ones or anyone with sensitive dispositions. A movie for Wahlberg/Berg fans and for anyone who needs to turn off their brains for a time and have a laugh. (Can you hear Eddie Murphy laughing in the background?) 

Reel Dialogue: What should you put before your eyes? 

Revenge, violence, justice, sex, language… The opportunities for consideration are plentiful in Spenser Confidential. Trying not to ‘out’ myself as a prude, the question that needs to be asked, “What should we put in front of our eyes for the sake of entertainment?” This film rips open the wound that represents the desire to enjoy something that screams out for moral objection. Psalm 101:3 says, “I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.” 

When filmmakers add certain components of writing or imagery for realism or for the sake of artistic license there may be an excuse on their part, but where does the accountability come down to the viewer? Should I be putting graphic violence, sex and crude language before my eyes and into my mind? The answer seems pretty obvious, but how would you answer that question? Something to consider before sitting down to watch Spenser Confidential.