Has Mark(y) Mark Wahlberg successfully completed the transistion from 90s white-hop douche to accomplished leading man? Probably. I dunno. He hasn’t put out any cringeworthy quasi-rap albums lately, but has acted in lots of films. Some good ones (The Departed, Three Kings), and some turkeys (The Happening), so people must like seeing him in stuff.
As if it wasn’t evident, I didn’t have much use for Wahlberg during his “Marky Mark” phase (had absolutely no use for the Funky Bunch). With his inability to wear shirts or button his pants, raps that were laughable, and a face that was extremely punchable, It wasn’t hard to guess why New Kids On The Block kicked him out of the group. So, when he said he was going to start making movies, I immediately prepared my self for Cool As Ice 2: Boston Boogaloo. But, he started out with bit parts and cameos and was relatively unremarkable. Leading roles in films like The Perfect Storm and Boogie Nights showed that he wanted to give acting a real go. Movies like Ted and The Other Guys showed that he was also ready to be a funny guy, albeit with varying levels of success.
Which brings me to the latest Netflix joint, Spenser Confidential. It’s a rollicking blend of action, comedy, suspense and more punches than a Subway Sub Club card. Wahlberg plays Spenser, a good ex-cop (and ex-con), Boston-born and bred boxing enthusiast who teams up with a man called Hawk. And if any of that sounded familiar, it’s because they are the same characters from that 80s crime drama Spenser: For Hire.
Spenser’s not “for hire” here; he’s just trying to blow the lid off of Boston’s corrupt cop syndicate “because it’s the right thing to do.” Winston Duke plays Hawk, who in this iteration, is an animal-loving gentle giant whom Spenser bonds with through the sweet science of boxing. Alan Arkin is also along for the ride because when you need a crochety old goat to spout zingers, there’s no one else better (or still alive).
Wahlberg plays Spenser with a certain degree of smoothness but, as Hawk says, he does get beat up a lot. Of course, the best boxers will tell you that learning how to take a punch is just as important as learning how to throw a punch. So he gets punched, hits back, while uncovering more dirty secrets, and pretending to keep away from his girlfriend Cissy, who might be somebody’s idea of a catch, but I’d’a thrown her back into the Hahbah.
Still, Spenser, Hawk, Uncle Henry and Cissy make for an amusing motley crew, and the laughs are aplenty. The story’s fairly typical buddy cop fare, and the twists don’t really shock, at all. They could’ve trimmed about 20-30 minutes off as well. No word yet if Netflix is going to go to series with this reboot of Spenser. I wouldn’t bother if I were them; it won’t be worth all the dough Mark Wahlberg would probably require. Two and a half out of five stars.