Confess, Fletch isn’t attempting much, but it lands as an amiable bit of diet-Soderbergh primed for a low-key weekend binge.
We all complain about what movies belong in theaters and argue the idea that streaming is deleterious to the cinematic experience, but occasionally something comes along that seems destined to be viewed at home under lazy circumstances. That something is Confess, Fletch, an affable, absolutely justifiable adaptation of one of novelist Gregory Macdonald’s many detective books featuring the character of Irwin M. “Fletch” Fletcher, former investigative journalist and present sorta-detective, previously assayed in two long-ago films by Chevy Chase, but here played by Mad Men’s Jon Hamm.
This one finds Fletch in Rome, uh, romancing a new lady friend, Angela, aka Andi (Lorenza Izzo). Her father, a Count, has a vast art collection. Then someone kidnaps said Count, and demands one of his Picassos as a ransom. Oh, and then it turns out that someone has already stolen said Picasso. Fletch is dispatched to Boston to meet with Ronald (Kyle MacLachlan), an art dealer (and victim of the law of economy of characters, spoiler alert), who may be able to help him locate the missing painting. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, Fletch finds a dead body in the apartment that Andi rented for him during his stay, a murder in which he quickly is made the prime suspect.
That’s so much plot! And weirdly, whenever Confess, Fletch gives itself over to its mystery narrative and the attendant twists and turns, you’ll find your eyes glazing over. The films charms come largely from its loosey-goosey hangout vibe, Hamm’s agreeable hijinks, and a game supporting cast, like Marcia Gay Harden as the kidnapee’s loopy wife, sporting a ridiculous Italian accent, Ayden Mayeri and Roy Wood Jr. as a couple of cops, and, in one of the movie’s briefest and most welcome asides, Hamm’s old Mad Men co-star John Slattery as a cantankerous newspaper man (their all-too-short scene together features some good old-fashioned shtick, nice to see them).
As directed by Greg Mottola (The Daytrippers, Superbad), this is an entirely amiable bit of diet-Soderbergh, with a frequently monochrome color palette, David Holmes-like DJ score (courtesy of David Arnold), and de-emphasis on the details of the narrative. Hamm is more than capable of playing a likable rake with a conscience, and despite a little bit of flop-sweat coating the whole thing, it’s more than funny enough. If it were promised to you in 50-minute segments once a week on Paramount +, it’d be a rejoinder to current dad-rock popular procedurals like Bosch, its lack of self-seriousness and focus on goofy character interactions feeling like a welcome tonic. As it stands, it’s an objectively middling movie, but one that seems born to be a pleasant low-key weekend streaming binge.