'Spenser Confidential' proves Winston Duke has what it takes to carve a niche for himself in action-comedy

Duke shows that he's not just a co-star who is sharing screen space with Mark Wahlberg but here is an actor who can also shoulder an entire film


                            'Spenser Confidential' proves Winston Duke has what it takes to carve a niche for himself in action-comedy
(Getty Images)
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Winston Duke was a towering giant when he played M'Baku, one of the key characters in 'Black Panther'. The film thrust the Trinbagonian–American actor into the limelight when he played a sort of an anti-hero. He reprised his role in 'Avengers: Infinity War' and 'Avengers: Endgame' and was one of the breakout stars coming from MCU.

He followed it up with horror flick 'Us' and 'Nine Days' before signing up for 'Spenser Confidential'. While the genres of each of the films he has appeared in are vastly different, in 'Spenser Confidential' you see that he is one of those stars who could land roles in action-comedy flicks. Duke plays Hawk, an ex-con in the film who is now living his life by training hard to make a name in the MMA circuit. While he does come across as beefy and intimidating, what he is in the movie is actually a gentle giant who loves animals. 

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What Duke does is he ensures he's not just a co-star who is sharing screen space with Mark Wahlberg. He nails his comic timing to near perfection and brings out the brawler in him only when provoked. Introduced as a character with a rather broody expression and a thing for oat milk, he manages to make every second of his time on-screen count and his chemistry with Wahlberg takes us back to the 'Rush Hour' days. Screenwriters Sean O'Keefe and Brian Helgeland have managed to make Duke more than just Spenser's roomie and that gives the burly actor a chance to bring more out of Hawk. 

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Duke as Hawk in 'Spenser Confidential' (Netflix)

Duke also makes sure he brings out the different layers of his character in 'Spenser Confidential'. There's some sarcasm, some witty one-liners and the can't-be-ignored-swagger. One of the instances is when Wahlberg tries to help him out with boxing but manages to get walloped by baddies, leading Hawk to make a statement with an amused look — "Man, you get beat up a lot." And all the while, you can't stop noticing the mischievous twinkle in his eye.

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He may be just five films and six TV series old in Hollywood, but Duke has shown promise. This is an actor who can't just hold his own in a cinema with an ensemble cast, but can also shoulder an entire film. Should 'Spenser Confidential' come back with a sequel, it just wouldn't be the same without Duke in it. Not only would it mean more screen time but also give a lot more depth to the character he has breathed life into.

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It wouldn't be wrong to state that Duke is a man well on his way to carving a niche for himself as an actor who specializes in action-comedy flicks. He has proved that in 'Black Panther' and makes it two-in-two with 'Spenser'. Maybe a few more Netflix projects and a couple of standalone badass films should help cement that position.

What are your thoughts on Duke as Hawk and his career path as a gun-slinging, wise-cracking hero? 

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'Spenser Confidential' is available for streaming on Netflix.