Follow TV Tropes


Film / Spenser Confidential

Go To

Spenser Confidential is a Netflix-original film directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, Alan Arkin, Iliza Shlesinger, and Bokeem Woodbine. It is loosely based on the novel Wonderland by Ace Atkins, who was given the task of continuing the Spenser stories by Robert B. Parker.

Spenser is a disgraced Boston cop who is released from jail after serving a five-year sentence for brutally beating his superior officer Captain John Boylan (Michael Gaston) after seeing Boylan beat his wife. Free and planning to start fresh in Arizona as a truck driver, Spenser nonetheless finds himself drawn into a violent conspiracy as events from his past begin to resurface. Complicating matters is the fact that Henry, an old friend, is forcing him to room with Hawk, an imposing, yet New Age-y ex-con, while Cissy, his on-again-off-again girlfriend keeps confusing him with her hot-and-cold personality.


This film provides examples of:

  • Artistic License – Cars: A minor plot point is the car driven by “Tracksuit” Bentwood being a high performance Corvette Z06, but the car used is actually a regular Corvette with a black decal on the hood.
  • Asshole Victim: John Boylan.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When asked if he has a girl waiting for him at home, Spenser talks lovingly about Pearl. Turns out, Pearl is an old beagle.
  • Bald of Evil: Driscoll, the head of the ring of Dirty Cops, is completely bald.
  • The Big Guy: Hawk is a mountain of a man and a skilled MMA fighter, but also a Gentle Giant unless provoked.
  • Car Fu: A large vehicle in motion is a great force multiplier when you're outnumbered.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Black Betty, the tractor unit at Spenser's trucking school, is used by Spenser and Hawk to ram their way through a group of heavily armed cops and gang members.
  • Advertisement:
  • Chekhov's Skill: Spenser's education as a truck driver comes in handy towards the end.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Spenser is driven by a need to see justice done, no matter how much trouble it gets him in. Henry realizes this and starts loudly asking for the channel to be flipped when he sees that Hawk notices a news story about a firefighter claiming to be framed.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Boylan, with whom Spenser has beef, is murdered the night Spenser is released from prison. Although Boston PD would like to pin Spenser for it, Henry and Hawk are able to give him a solid alibi.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Boylan gets slowly hacked apart with machetes by the dirty cops.
  • Dead Animal Warning: When Spenser retells the tale of how he ended up in prison and its connection to "Tracksuit" Brentwood, he mentions Brentwood performing strong-arming tactics on a poor student who was protesting his employer's deals (and then he killed her), which included nailing the student's beloved cat to her home's door.
  • Dirty Cop: The film's antagonists are a group of dirty cops who are willing to turn on their own to protect their interests.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Boylan is a cruel and corrupt cop, but he's shown to have a good relationship with his daughter.
  • Evil All Along: Driscoll is the head of the drug trafficking Dirty Cops.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Boylan’s bloody death is kept entirely offscreen.
  • Granola Guy: Hawk is into health food and crystals. He can be seen performing a ritual removing negative energy from Pearl.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Spenser begins raining love on Pearl the moment he sees her again after five years. Hawk also loves Pearl and Pearl loves him back, to Spenser's displeasure.
  • The Irish Mob: Tracksuit Charlie is a member. True to form, he operates as muscle-for-hire to larger operations.
  • Machete Mayhem: The Dirty Cops use machetes to kill Boylan.
  • Made of Iron: Spenser is an excellent fistfighter, but he is also just one man with a habit of taking on a half-dozen opponents at a time. Even when he wins, he still comes out bloody and bruised. Lampshaded by Hawk.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Henry definitely has this in mind in the epilogue when he keeps yelling for a bar's bartender to change the TV to a baseball game after he notices that Spenser became interested in the news article airing about an arrested firefighter claiming he was framed.
  • Old Dog: Pearl is an aging dog who can only move very slowly. She spends most of her on-screen time holding still and being showered with affection by Spenser and Hawk.
  • Sequel Hook: The film ends with Spenser being piqued by a firefighter claiming that he was framed.
  • The Precious, Precious Car:
    • Henry's car is used as a battering ram by Hawk to break up an assassination attempt on Spenser.
    • Hawk scratches up "Tracksuit" Brentwood's beloved Porsche both as a distraction and in revenge for the murder of a student that Spenser told him about just one minute before.
    • "Black Betty", the nice truck that belongs to the driving school Spenser goes to, is stolen by Spenser and Hawk at the climax and used as a battering ram and cover from the gangsters' gunfire.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: What got Spenser sent to prison. He accidentally discovered that Boylan beats his wife and beat Boylan to a pulp.