Here’s some perfectly mindless couch viewing.
“Spenser Confidential,” the new mystery-action flick starring Mark Wahlberg, lands directly on Netflix Friday, and that’s the right home for it. The film’s fights and explosions aren’t so grand that you need a big screen to enjoy them, the performances are comfortable and the plot is just thrilling enough for anyone in pajamas.
Keep in mind, if you’re a fan of the Robert B. Parker and Ace Atkins “Spenser” series of books, director Peter Berg’s film has next to nothing in common with them, save for the names and a few pertinent details. The story is still set in Boston, but Spenser (Wahlberg) is now a meathead cop who was sent to prison for five years for beating up (albeit rightfully) his superior officer, Capt. Boylan (Michael Gaston).
The same day Spenser gets out of the clink, Boylan is hacked to death with a machete. The ugly crime is pinned on another officer, who’s found dead in his car, but Spenser knows that guy to be a good cop. Going rogue, he becomes determined to clear that cop’s name and uncover the truth, with the help of his new roommate, Hawk (Winston Duke), and boxing-gym owner Henry (Alan Arkin).
From there, even surprising moments aren’t really all that surprising. Smiley nice guys turn out to be bad (don’t they always!), drug gangs get involved and Spenser teaches the hulkish Hawk how to properly fight.
Still, the movie passes the time, and has a decent sense of humor. In his role, Arkin sounds like he’s on the phone with customer service. And Spenser’s loudmouth girlfriend, played by Iliza Shlesinger, is a scream — especially when they hookup in the bathroom of a health-food restaurant.
Wahlberg simply does his best Wahlberg, but nobody is gonna queue this one up expecting Christian Bale.