Jon Hamm brings Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher back to the big screen. After numerous attempts to reboot or continue the series that began with Chevy Chase, Hamm steps into the role of the unconventional investigative reporter who may have a chance at carrying the mantle in quite some time. Confess, Fletchfollows Fletch as he becomes a murder suspect in his search for stolen art. Confess, Fletch isn't a ringing endorsement of rebooting projects from the 80s; instead, it is an excellent showcase of Jon Hamm's comedic chops, a well-known skill that has been primarily misused until now.
Confess, Fletch, the second novel from Gregory McDonald's Fletch series, follows Hamm's investigative reporter Irwin Fletcher (aka, Fletch), a sardonic man who is perpetually barefooted. After a trip to Italy, he returns to his Boston townhouse to find a dead body, and — surprise, surprise — he is the prime suspect. Meanwhile, Fletch has been enlisted by his girlfriend Angela (Lorenza Izzo) to help her with some family drama and missing art. Fletch has to clear his name and find the missing art, all while all sorts of hijinks and shenanigans get thrown at him, which don't bother him in the slightest. He seems to thrive in chaos.
Overall, the film — directed by Greg Mottola, who has several comedic projects under his belt — has all the pieces in place for a hilarious romp. The critical ingredient is Jon Hamm. The actor is well cast, and he can flow from one ridiculous scenario to the next without hindering his performance. He constantly remains alert, dropping his sly and sarcastic line delivery at the perfect times. He also has the best facial expressions; his expressive face has always been a gift, but it is even more evident in this role. Mottola previously worked with Hamm on a little-known comedy called Keeping Up With The Joneses, and he seems to have picked up a great working relationship with the actor to bring out the best in him. Confess, Fletch pulls back on the wacky antics that typically define Fletch's tactics, which helps bring the project to the 21st century. However, it seems the off-kilter and eccentric shtick has been done better elsewhere. Nonetheless, the film is entertaining because the titular role is so well acted.
In addition to Hamm, Confess, Fletch has an all-star ensemble, including a mini Mad Men reunion between Hamm and John Slattery. Annie Mumolo lends her gifts to play the wacky neighbor, Lorenza Izzo is charming, and Marcia Gay Harden is always excellent. Roy Wood Jr. and Ayden Mayeri round out an overall impressive cast of comedic talent. The only catch is that the script by Mottola and Zev Borow isn't consistent. It's as though the actor's natural instincts propel the story forward rather than a solid script providing a framework for the actors to work with. While there is no need for a neat murder mystery, with all the pieces being cleverly disguised behind red herrings and an eclectic group of suspects, there remains a lack of tension or excitement. Most of the entertainment stems from the cast and how attuned they are to what is expected of them. Confess, Fletch is hardly worth engaging with if it weren't for this ensemble and the fun dynamic between them.
Confess, Fletch is a lot like its central figure, and it's hard to say whether that is a good thing for the film. Fletch's main tactic is to let people assume things about him or who he presents himself to be and wing it from there. The distinct lack of polish or sophistication is endearing for the character, but less so for the project named after him. Mottola is capable behind the camera, but there is no panache to his directing style to pair with an interesting character like Fletch. Other than the cast, very little stands out about the production; all that can be noted is that it is adequately put together. Fletch also allows the suspects he speaks with to unfurl before him, exposing their eccentricities and personas while he takes in the information, occasionally dropping a slick remark here and there. He lacks professionalism, and while driven by the need to solve a mystery, he is not against following a few detours just for the hell of it.
Confess, Fletch is not a slam dunk, but it successfully presents audiences with a new mystery savant that will stand out from the rest. Hamm's relaxed approach to playing Fletch signifies his comfort and ease with portraying such a character. Hopefully, this film finds some success. It will be a shame for this reboot not to have the opportunity to expand into a full-fledged franchise. Mottola may not have been best suited for this project, but there is room to grow, and perhaps he and Hamm will be able to nail down the necessities for a successful Fletch series together.
Confess, Fletch released in theaters and on demand Friday, September 16, and will be available to watch on Showtime beginning Friday, October 28. The film is 98 minutes long and is rated R for language, sexual content and drug use.