Writer-director Greg Mottola’s Confess, Fletch marks the third on-screen appearance of the beloved rapier-wit reporter Irwin M. “Fletch” Fletcher and the first in almost 40 years since Chevy Chase famously filled it at the height of his cinematic popularity. During that time, multiple attempts have been made to resuscitate the character following the stale sequel Fletch Lives. Ryan Reynolds, Ben Affleck, and Joshua Jackson were all mentioned to fill the role, yet none of those incarnations gained momentum. Finally, director Kevin Smith attempted to invigorate the franchise with Jason Lee in the early 2000s, but that too derailed before filming.
Confess, Fletch introduces us to Jon Hamm’s manifestation of the character. And quite frankly, it is perhaps one of the best big-screen roles for the actor, allowing him to glide on his cool confidence and flex his comedic chops along the way. Hewing closer to author Greg Mcdonald’s vision of the character, Mottola and co-writer Zev Borow steer far from Chase’s zaniness that marked his two films and ultimately swallowed the sequel whole (which was not based on a Mcdonald novel). Instead, they focus more on braiding together the various subplots that entangle our titular hero.
We now find Fletch in early retirement from journalism. He’s currently in Rome, flirting with a woman named Angela (Lorenza Izzo), when her wealthy father is kidnapped. She’s embroiled in a tug-of-war with her stepmother, known as The Countess (Marcia Gay Harden), over the ordeal, as there is a financially significant painting that is also a part of the mystery.
“Fletch heads to Boston to investigate, only to wake up to a dead woman in his Airbnb.”
Fletch heads to Boston to investigate, only to wake up to a dead woman in his Airbnb. Of course, he’s the lead suspect in her murder. Throughout his quest to prove his innocence, Fletch comes across several colorful people, all of whom are potential culprits. Fletch has run-ins with two up-tight officers (Roy Wood Jr. and Ayden Mayeri), who serve as targets for his frequent verbal barbs.
Confess, Fletch is certainly nowhere near as intricately constructed as Knives Out, nor is it trying to be. Instead, Matolla and company coast along at a leisurely pace on par with our lead’s cavalier attitude. Mottola instead lets us marinate in situations for Fletch to wiggle his way into or out of. The escalating number of awkward predicaments proves humorous.
The film works because Hamm decides to scale back all “Chevy-ness” of the character and is actually much closer to the source material than the SNL alum’s take. As a result, Fletch feels more like an actual character rather than a series of skits that allow him to don a series of goofy getups, mugging for the camera. Unfortunately, though, this is nowhere near as quotable as a result. There is no “Claud Henry Smoot,” “Harvey Poon,” Arnold Babar,” or “Dr. Rosenpenis” to be found here, and Fletch’s zingers won’t make a Youtube highlight reel. Still, there’s a certain charm about them.
For those who have read any of the McDonald adventures with the reporter (there are nine, not including the “Son of Fletch” novels), Confess, Fletch feels much more authentic. Hamm is given one of the biggest sandboxes yet for his talent and he pulls it off. Here’s hoping for future chapters.
"…works because [of] Hamm..."