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Confess, Fletch – Film Review

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confess fletch film review

If we were a film executive, scanning the Miramax and Paramount back-catalogue for IP, we probably would have skimmed past Fletch. A Chevy Chase vehicle back in 1985, and then again in 1989 with Fletch Lives, it’s a character that elicits a shrug from us. We couldn’t recall a single detail from the movies, and certainly haven’t heard anyone clamouring for new stories from him. We’d put it on a level with a new Cocoon or Short Circuit movie. 

But modern times are unpredictable, and we’re sitting here with Confess, Fletch on the Microsoft Film & TV Store. It has morphed into a vehicle for Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, who takes the titular role, one that is more comedic than we’re used to from him (although he has shown those chops before, most notably in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and 30 Rock). 

But, in an event that is even more unpredictable than the film existing in the first place, it’s a whole lot of fun and well worth your time. Who knew?

Confess, Fletch doesn’t waste any time with delivering backstory. It’s refreshing not to trawl through an origin story or grounding of the character: instead, we’re meant to realise, quite quickly, that this is a raconteur with deep beliefs in their own ability, yet the reality is always slightly shy of those beliefs. Fletch is far from incompetent – he was an investigative journalist, don’t you know, and his deductive capability is definitely high up there – but he’s always biting off more than he can necessarily chew, and it’s when Fletch tries to adapt that Confess, Fletch is at its best. It’s pretty clear that Fletch’s easy charm has got him where is, making up for any deficit in his ability. 

Jon Hamm laps this up. More than perhaps any other actor, he exudes a sense of capability, something that he tuned to perfection on Mad Men. To have that be undermined in Confess, Fletch is cracking fun, and highlights why Jon Hamm was the ideal choice for the role. His range is more than adequate as well, as he is just as comfortable when others are the butt of jokes – a brilliant cooking sequence with neighbour Eve (Annie Mumolo) showcases this – as when Fletch himself is the butt. There’s no better example than his relationship with Inspector Monroe (Roy Wood Jnr) and Detective Griz (Ayden Mayeri), who we deeply hope come back in any further iterations. Their relationship is constant one-upmanship, as Fletch outwits them brilliantly in a police chase, yet needs to be constantly saved by them. 

The plot is mostly a whodunnit, and a convoluted one at that. It’s Confess, Fletch’s Achilles heel. A Count is kidnapped, and the only means of paying the ransom is by selling the Count’s paintings, which have been stolen in a separate incident. Fletch, as an investigative journalist of renown, is employed, but he is also caught up in his own subplot, as a dead body is found in the flat that he is using as a base of operations. It goes without saying that these three plot strands may be separate at the start of the movie, but they soon get plaited. 

Confess, Fletch can’t decide which of them is in focus at any one time, nor can it quite reconcile which ones Fletch and his partner Angela de Grassi (Lorenza Isso, energetic and hysterical) care about. As characters enter and exit, and each plot strand gets revealed, increment by increment, it can be a little hard to keep up. 

We’ve also been treated in recent years to some fantastic murder mysteries that have subverted the genre, and come with a cigarette pack-full of twists and turns. Confess, Fletch is neither subverting the genre, nor does it have any “ooh, aah!” moments, as no clever plot-sidewinders change anything really. Confess, Fletch is somehow both complicated and reasonably straightforward, not leaving any room for meanders, and we’d have rathered that it was the opposite. 

Luckily, Confess, Fletch’s real joy comes from its fizzing dialogue, fantastic character pair-ups, and memorable moments. You can begin to consign the plot to a mental bin, simply because everything else on the screen is so much fun. Whenever Fletch steps into the police station, trying to do the work for them, or brings germs into Ronald’s (Kyle MacLachlan’s) beautifully kept office, you know you are in for a treat. 

We even started thinking like Fletch. His catchphrase of “Five stars!” whenever he deals with a service industry (taxis are five stars, waiters are five stars, like he’s a walking Tripadvisor) became our go-to for a bit, and that’s probably not a good thing. We might start taking our shoes and socks off in the middle of meetings to put people on edge, too. 

When seen as a murder mystery, Confess, Fletch falters. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, for example, is infinitely better at constructing an edifice and letting its detectives have at it, deconstructing it piece by piece. The plot here is too muddled and distracted to be anything more than background noise. 

But treat it as a reasonably out-and-out comedy, something that’s increasingly rare, then Confess, Fletch is well worth a rental from your Xbox Store. There’s a wit on show here that is deeply old-fashioned, reminiscent of Woody Allen perhaps, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t play as well now. Confess, Fletch is hugely quotable, stapled to a winning performance from Jon Hamm, and the two in combination will make your evening glow. 

Hugely watchable, but not quite five stars – sorry, Fletch.

You can buy or rent Confess, Fletch from the Xbox Store

Over the next few weeks, we are going to be trying something new: we’re going to be reviewing some of the new releases in the Xbox Film and TV Store. Let us know what you make of these features in the comments below.

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