In the age of streaming, new movies are a somewhat different animal. One of the big questions for any theatrical movie that people try to get answered is if the film in question is worth spending the money, but if you've already got Netflix, you're already spending the money. Now the question is simply, is the movie worth taking the time. Unfortunately, despite everything Spenser Confidential has going for it, most critics don't seem to think it's worth checking out.
Based on a popular series of novels that got their start in the 1970s, that became a TV series in the 1980s, some made-for-TV movie follow-ups in the 1990s, and then anew set of TV movies in the early 2000s, Spenser Confidential stars Mark Wahlberg as the titular private detective with Winston Duke as his partner Hawk.
It's a pretty standard buddy cop formula, which Wahlberg has shown he can made work in the past, and the film is directed by Peter Berg, who, along with Wahlberg, has produced some entertaining movies over the last few years. And yet, CinemaBlend's Eric Eisenberg gives the movie two stars, ultimately feeling that the movie is much less than the sum of its parts...
It has its peaks as it plays out its series of action beats and fight sequences with a comedic flair not typically seen in Mark Wahlberg-Peter Berg team-ups, but it’s a movie of mostly valleys as it unfolds trope after trope in the central narrative.
A similar tone can be found in the review from EW. There's a feeling that the movie is just bland and uninteresting.While Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have made interesting films before, this one just isn't one of them.
[T]he duo’s first collaboration for Netflix feels less like a thriller fitted for the small screen than a sort of supersized block of crime-time television: an episodic John Wick for all the classic-rock dads patiently waiting for their own small corner of the streaming universe to be served. (If every song on the soundtrack isn’t actually Thin Lizzy, it might as well be.)
Spenser Confidential is sitting with a 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, which isn't the worst score. It means that about half the reviews are actually positive, though, it should be said that few of them are particularity glowing. In general it seems that the film succeeds or fails based largely on how much you enjoy the chemistry of the two leads. The film is based on a book series after all, so the idea of a franchise of these things has to be on the table, and the movie does apparently set up a sequel, a few reviewers seem to be up for that, such as ComicBookMovie.com.
A fun if somewhat forgettable ride, Mark Wahlberg and Winston Duke steal the show in Spencer Confidential, and we definitely wouldn't say no to getting to watch this duo solve more mysteries in the not too distant future.
If there's any critic that seems to have truly enjoyed Spenser Confidential it's the Chicago Sun Times Richard Roeper. One gets the feeling from his review that he doesn't necessarily have a drastically different take on the material, rather than he thinks that what other people consider a bug, he thinks is actually a feature.
It's a fantastically over-the-top, drive-in B-movie for the streaming generation.
Most critics don't think there's much in Spender Confidential to celebrate, but in the end the film success will be measured in views, not dollars. And sometimes, something by-the-numbers that doesn't require too much attention is exactly what you're looking for on Netflix.