Mark Wahlberg certainly continues to show love for his hometown of Boston in his filmography. From The Departed through Patriot’s Day to the recent Spenser Confidential (now streaming on Netflix), Wahlberg frequently chooses projects set in his hometown. In Spenser Confidential, Wahlberg plays the title character, a former Boston Police officer about to end a five year prison stretch for assaulting his police captain over burying evidence related to a young woman’s murder. Upon release from prison, the police captain is murdered and a young, honest cop is killed and framed for the murder. Unwilling to let an injustice go, Spenser investigates the frame-up himself, crossing paths with dirty cops, Dominican cartel members, and many Boston accents of varying degrees of credibility.
Spenser Confidential is a fairly standard buddy action-comedy, but it is elevated by strong writing and an even stronger cast. Sean O’ Keefe and Brian Helgeland adapted the screenplay from a novel by Ace Atkins (based on the late Robert B. Parker’s characters), and Helgeland, a veteran of the noir genre, leaves his penchant for tough-guy dialogue all over the screenplay. Wahlberg is likable as usual and he’s assisted by a trio of comically deft performers in Winston Duke as Spenser’s roommate and defacto investigative partner, Alan Arkin as their mentor, and Iliza Shesinger as Spenser’s assertive Southie girlfriend. Peter Berg, the director and frequent Wahlberg collaborator, seems to let the camera roll a little longer in some scenes just to catch the brilliant comedic timing of these three. Bokeem Woodbine, intelligent and enticing as always, plays the heavy. From the accents to Bruins references to the lobstah, Boston is firmly a character as well.