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'Spenser Confidential' Review: Mark Wahlberg's Netflix debut is a slick action flick with thigh-slapping humor

It's a homecoming for Boston boy Wahlberg as he takes on street gangs and rogue cops with Winston Duke and what follows is massive mayhem
UPDATED MAR 19, 2020

This review is spoiler-free

'Spenser Confidential' checks all boxes for being an R-rated flick. While at it, it fully delivers all the promises it made. Mark Wahlberg's first Netflix film has generous doses of slam-bang action, some thigh-slapping humor, a bunch of corrupt cops, a bit of raunch and a barrage of expletives that are dropped every now and then. 

It's a homecoming for Boston boy Wahlberg. Loosely based on the book 'Wonderland' and the '80s classical TV series 'Spenser: For Hire', the streaming giant gave Wahlberg an opportunity to team up with Peter Berg to bring Spenser back to life. With the duo teaming up again after 'Deepwater Horizon', 'Patriot’s Day' and 'Lone Survivor', they have recreated the same magic. They bring in some additional horsepower with Winston Duke, who proves he's got what it takes to shoulder a movie on his own.

It's a predictable plot. Nothing complex. A renegade hero in Spenser (Wahlberg), a former cop, is jailed for attacking his superior officer. He does his time but has not lost his moral compass. Post serving his sentence, instead of sticking to his plan of hanging up his boots, moving out and getting some quality time, the man ends up in a twisted conspiracy that includes street gangs, rogue cops and drugs. Not to forget — a few murders.

However, 'Spenser Confidential' makes up for this predictability with enough intense action. There is a substantial amount of brawling with Wahlberg taking as many hits as he can while boxing uppercutting and socking his way through the baddies.

It's a bloody affair. Post Malone sent his fans in a tizzy when the trailer hit YouTube. His cameo isn't a force fit and that makes his role all the more concrete, despite the meager screentime. 

Duke and Wahlberg in 'Spenser Confidential' (Netflix)

Duke doesn't necessarily play second fiddle and that's a good call as the talented 'Black Panther' star shines each time he takes the screen. He isn't just the typical buddy in a cop drama. Think Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan from the absolutely hilarious 'Rush Hour' series, except, beefy and dog-loving Duke, or Hawk as he's known in the film, is a natural brawler. A character who is essentially a man of few words, but he has got a decent background story and that sets him up nicely.

Iliza Shlesinger, Alan Arkin, Bokeem Woodbine, Michael Gaston and Marc Maron complete the set of main characters. With a runtime of 110 minutes, the film sees Berg try and give each of these characters ample time on the screen while ensuring Wahlberg and Duke are still the men in the spotlight. 

It's been a good start for Netflix. It doled out some big-budget movies in 'The Irishman' and '6 Underground' last year. Both movies boasted of big names, with the former being nominated for the Academy Awards. It follows a similar template with 'Spenser Confidential' and may just have another hit in the hands, and going by the potential sequel ending, we might not have seen the last of the duo. 

This one is best enjoyed with a tub of popcorn. 

'Spenser Confidential' is streaming now on Netflix.