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 to resuscitate the character following the stale sequel Fletch Lives in 1989. Ryan Reynolds, Ben Affleck, and Joshua Jackson were all mentioned to fill the lead role, yet none of those incarnations officially gained momentum. Finally, director Kevin Smith attempted to invigorate the franchise with Alvin and the Chipmunks’ Jason Lee in the early 2000s, but that too derailed before filming.
Confess introduces us to Jon Hamm’s manifestation of the character, and, quite frankly, it is perhaps one of the best big-screen roles for actors, 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, director Greg Mottola and co-writer Zev Borow steer far from Chase’s zany characters that marked his two films and ultimately swallowed Lives (which was not based on a Mcdonald novel). Instead, they focused more on braiding together the various subplots that entangle our titular hero.
“Fletch heads to Boston to investigate, only to wake up to a dead woman in his Airbnb, and he becomes the lead suspect…”
We now find Fletch in early retirement from journalism and in Rome flirting with a woman named Angela (Lorenza Izzo), whose wealthy father is kidnapped. Angela is 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, and he becomes the lead suspect in her murder. Throughout, Confess is scattered with possible colorful culprits and gives Fletch two up-tight officers ( Roy Wood Jr. and Ayden Mayeri) as targets for his frequent verbal barbs.
It’s certainly nowhere near as intricately constructed as Rian Johnson’s 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. Matolla instead lets us marinate in situations for Fletch to wiggle his way into (and out of) a number of escalating awkward predicaments.
Confess 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 and mugs for the camera.
It’s 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. But 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 and gives Hamm one of the biggest sandboxes yet for his talent. And here’s hoping for future chapters.