The character of I. M. Fletcher, ie “Fletch” first appeared in the 1974 novel by Gregory MacDonald of the same name and was sucessful enough to span plenty of novel sequels and prequels (you can read more about the books here). In 1985 Chevy Chase appeared in a film version of the first novel, also titled Fletch…
The movie did well enough that a sequel, Fletch Lives, also starring Chevy Chase, was released in 1989. While many hold the original film in high esteem, there was, IMHO, a pretty big drop off in quality with Fletch Lives, which I felt was a far sillier film than the first.
Anyway and regardless, people have fond memories of the books and/or the movies and for years I kept reading here and there that another Fletch film would be made. For a while, it was Kevin Smith (Clerks) who was tied to such a film and, if memory serves, Ben Affleck taking the role in a new movie was talked about.
It never materialized.
However, this year I was surprised to see the release of Confess, Fletch, featuring Jon Hamm in the titular role and directed by Greg Mottola (Adventureland, Superbad)…
Seeing as we’re still in the process of emerging from the COVID pandemic, movies releases are still scattershot, with some films simultaneously appearing in theaters and streaming/VOD at the same time and, in the case of Confess, Fletch, it appeared the same happened. I caught the film using the VOD system for VUDU because I heard good things about it and was a fan of that original Chevy Chase film and thought the idea of Jon Hamm taking on the titular role might prove good.
So… was it?
Here’s the thing: There are films that are good. There are films that are bad. There are also films that are perfectly fine yet don’t necessarily blow you over.
I’d place Confess, Fletch squarely in that category.
There is nothing at all wrong with the film. It’s well acted, has some good laughs, and the mystery is decent if not on the level of, say, an Agatha Christie.
However, it is also a film that seems to reach a certain level of quality and remains there throughout the runtime. There are no big shocks or surprises and, perhaps the film’s biggest “sin”, there is no really spectacular climax.
I mention this in particular because I feel the most successful films have that going for them: They start at zero and gradually -or perhaps not so gradually!- move up and up. The climax of the best films should be where the suspense or horror or comedy should be at its highest and the resolution should leave audiences pleased to have spent their time watching the film.
Alas, Confess, Fletch never quite reaches that point. Again, the film is perfectly fine through its runtime. I very much recommend it!
But I can’t come out and say the film was spectacular or a “must see”. It unfortunately never hits that second or third gear in its climax, instead flowing at a regular pace through its end.
Jon Hamm makes for a good but very different from Chevy Chase version of Fletch. He’s not quite as comedic as Chevy Chase’s version and there’s less of a sense that we’re watching a comedic movie. Further to that, an effort is made to “modernize” the character into this day and era where journalism isn’t quite what it used to be. It is also my understanding Jon Hamm used some of his salary for this role to pay to complete the film and I think that’s incredibly admirable.
Again, the bottom line is that I would recommend the film but caution people to not expect incredible fireworks here. The film is a pleasant time killer and enjoyable as is, but not necessarily a film of the ages… then again, how many are?
Recommended with that caveat!