Spenser Confidential Parent Guide
Streaming on Netflix: Gratuitously, brutally violent, we don't recommend this movie for families. Or anyone else for that matter..
Parent Movie Review
Believing that his boss, Captain Boylan (Michael Gaston), is burying a murder investigation Spenser (Mark Wahlberg) lets him know in no uncertain terms that he won’t stand for it. As a result, Spenser ends up spending five years in prison. When he gets out, he learns that not only has Boylan been murdered, but a good cop named Terrence Graham (Brandon Scales) has been framed for it and then killed. In his quest to uncover the truth, Spenser winds up working with young UFC fighter Hawk (Winston Duke), gym owner Henry (Alan Arkin), and his unstable ex-girlfriend Cissy (Iliza Schlesinger).
Netflix original movies can have a tendency to feel like background noise, and this shares that weakness. It isn’t terrible (negative content issues excluded), but it has no stand-out qualities. It only manages to avoid being absolutely infuriating by not taking itself too seriously – most of the time, anyway. Spenser Confidential suffers from tonal inconsistency: it’s not sure if it’s aiming for drama or dark humor. For instance, it slides between something as unpleasant as a slow scene showing a wife discovering her husband’s mutilated corpse and something being played for laughs - a couple having loud sex in a restaurant bathroom. While there is space between these scenes, the movie as a whole seems unsure how serious it wants to be.
This production is obviously unsuitable for family viewing. There are fewer f-bombs than there are minutes in the movie…by three. If you include the credits, that’s about one extreme profanity per minute. If you total up all the other cuss words in the film, the screenwriters manage an eye-popping 200+ profanities in a 111 minute movie. The violence is also quite unpleasant, with people brutally beat to death, killed with machetes, shot… And it’s not just the people either. One scene includes a dead cat shown nailed to someone’s front door. Even if you aren’t a cat lover, it’s rough viewing.
I suppose given a long enough self-quarantine for the current viral outbreak, you might run out of enough other things to watch that you give this a shot, but for my money, it’d have to be a pretty long quarantine. Even the inclusion of one of my favorite songs (Foreplay/Long Time by Boston, if you were curious) is nowhere near enough to make the rest of the movie worth watching. If I wanted paint-by-numbers violence, there are plenty of funnier and smarter crime thrillers I could watch that wouldn’t make me watch Mark Wahlberg struggle to portray an emotion for nearly two hours. The only bright spot in this whole mess is Alan Arkin, who I would watch in just about anything – and so, of course, he has very little dialogue. Truly, a missed opportunity.Directed by Peter Berg. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, and Iliza Schlesinger. Running time: 111 minutes. Theatrical release March 6, 2020. Updated May 14, 2020
Watch the trailer for Spenser Confidential
Rating & Content Info
Why is Spenser Confidential rated R? Spenser Confidential is rated R by the MPAA for violence, language throughout and sexual content
Violence: Several people (male and female) are graphically shot and/or beaten to death. A woman is shown beaten and bloody with the implication that she was abused by her husband. A woman is told her daughter is dead; she collapses. A woman breaks a mirror in the throes of passion. A person is shivved and cut with a machete. A man is thrown down the stairs. An individual is stabbed with a small receipt spike. A person is beheaded. Someone is bitten by a large dog. An individual is nearly drowned for information. An individual’s leg is broken. A cat is killed and shown nailed to a door. Several fistfights occur. A man is shown with bloody injuries after a car accident. A truck drives through a crowd of vehicles and people, flipping them over. A man vandalizes a vehicle, slashing its tires with a knife and gouging the paint. A woman’s dead body is found in the trunk of a car. A man tosses a sledgehammer through a vehicle that is being driven; passengers are injured. An individual has his face forced underwater until he is willing to answer questions. A man is attacked by a dog; the bites aren’t shown but he is seen with torn clothing. There are mentions of off-screen violence, suicide, and death. There are multiple threats of death or injury.
Sexual Content: An unmarried couple has sex in a restaurant bathroom with no nudity. There are several instances of crude dialogue regarding sex.
Profanity: There are 108 sexual expletives, 49 scatological curses, and dozens of other profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Individuals are shown drinking in a bar. A large amount of fentanyl, oxycontin, and cocaine are shown.
Page last updated May 14, 2020