“Hawk is the name of a motherfucker with a cool gun. Spenser is the name of the guy who does your taxes.”
I might have mangled that line, but it’s the closest approximation I can remember from a scene in the new Netflix movie. Mark Wahlberg is reviving the 1980s Boston based private detective TV show based on the series of novels by Robert Parker. Winston Duke of Black Panther fame plays his trusty sidekick, and the line above is from a part where the dynamic duo squabble over who gets to wield the coolest gun in a shootout with nefarious ne’er-do’wells.
The setup? Spenser went to prison 5 years ago for kicking his Captain’s ass. So frustrated was he with his captain’s corruption and unable to prove anything that would stick, he resorted to violence and paid the price.
5 years later, he’s been released and is trying to get his life back on track. His friend, Henry (Alan Arkin) who trained him in his gym, gives him a place to stay, allowing him to room with Hawk, a fighter he is training.
Spenser is about to leave Boston for good, saying goodbye to his old life of fighting crime, choosing to be a truck driver instead when the captain whose ass he kicked is murdered and a good cop is framed for the deed.
Unable to put himself over his need to do the right thing, Spenser recruits Hawk to help him on a quest to bring down the baddies and clear a good cop’s name.
There’s action. Thrills. Dogs. Lots of dogs. Marc Maron stops by as a blogger willing to spread tales of Spenser’s daring do.
Comedienne Ilza Schlesinger doesn’t just steal the show as Spenser’s perpetually angry ex-girlfriend, Cissy She hijacks it and comes back for more and more. Angry at Spenser one second for his refusal to think of himself and let crimes go unsolved one second, loves him and wants to support him the next. A scene where she points out that Spenser, Hawk and Henry are basically three grown adults trying to play Batman is particularly funny.
The movie is worth watching and it also sets up a formula. Spenser can step into the role of a private eye now, being a man who really wants to settle down and have a normal life, yet knows how to solve crimes and can’t sit by while injustice is afoot. Hawk provides the muscle while Henry and Cissy stop by for comic relief.
Hopefully, this will be the start of a series. I could seeing it being a TV show, though perhaps Wahlberg is too big for that. A film series that builds on the formula could be interesting.