Disgraced former Boston police officer, Spenser (Mark Wahlberg), is released from a five-year prison sentence for assaulting his captain John Boylan. Spencer goes to the home of his mentor, boxing coach Henry (Alan Arkin) and Henry’s new mentee, Hawk (Winston Duke) while avoiding his ex, Cissy (Iliza Shlesinger). On this day of Spenser’s release, Boylan is murdered, and Spenser is drawn into his old ways.
Director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have previously dealt with celebrating the real-life heroes of significant real-life tragedies: American troops in Afghanistan, workers surviving an oil rig explosion and Boston city officials reacting to the Boston bombings. Where Mile 22 was a fictional espionage action thriller, here the duo tackles the buddy-cop comedy with mixed results.
The movie is based on Ace Atkins’ novel Wonderland, using characters from Robert B. Parker’s Spenser for Hire novels, which were adapted into a 1980’s TV series. The movie, released on Netflix, feels similar, lacking a large blockbuster budget and therefore the pyrotechnics and stunts required of the genre. As it lacks the Hollywood sheen, the movie instead relies on its ensemble cast to elevate the well-trodden material, bolstering relationships that hint at a wider history. Our cast of characters are in a heightened state throughout, (lovingly) bickering and swearing at each other, as if making up for lost time.
Verdict: A blunt blockbusterwannabe series-starter on a budget. Have a look at the Die Hard, Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys series on Blu-Ray instead. 2.5 stars.
CW‘s film reviewer Luke McWilliams also writes about all things movies over at themovieclub.net