It’s been forever since a new Fletch film, though Hollywood is littered with failed attempts at launching a third installment.
I was cautious about this film, hopeful it wouldn’t disappoint too much. That’s a strange way to approach a film, perhaps more curious than anything.
Many writers, directors and actor have been attached to Fletch through the decades. Ben Afflect, Jason Lee, Jason Suderus are just a few of the actors. I never considered Jon Hamm (Mad Men) to be in consideration. Jason Lee (My Name is Earl) is my idea of an updated version of Fletch.
Confess, Fletch (2022) is an interesting project. Directed and co-written by Greg Mottola (Superbad, Paul), Confess, Fletch is based on a Gregory McDonald book of the same name. I’m not a reader of the Fletch novels, so I imagine that this film is closer to the McDonald book than the Chevy Chase films of the 1980s, the biggest difference being the tone of the Fletch character. Chase painted Fletch as a capable but goofy slacker, good at his craft, yet lacking in self-awareness. Hamm is snarky, though not the dope that Chase infused in his version of Fletch. Hamm’s Fletch knows what he’s doing, even when surprises fall into his path.
An art theft, a kidnapping, a murder start the film. Of course, Fletch becomes a murder suspect and he assume various identities to clear himself. No rubber noses, fake teeth or funny voices.
Confess, Fletch is convoluted rather than complex. It strays from reality much less than Chases’ films did, trying to make Hamm’s Fletch believable and smart. Hamm makes a great effort to mold Fletch as an anti-hero, but a good-guy. He does have a knack for light comedy, most effective when he is the butt of his humor, playing against his handsome, driven Mad Men persona. The Progressive commercials are proof.
The supporting cast includes Roy Wood Jr. in a very muted role as a police inspector, Marcia Gay Harden as an Italian countess, and Kyle MacLachlan as a germaphobe art broker. Fellow Mad Men actor John Slattery is Fletch’s former boss, always trying to get Fletch roped into an investigative story.
This is not a bad film, but I can’t really think of it as a “Fletch” film. Outside of the name, this film stands apart from the two Chase Fletch films. Hamm is affable, the other actors provide great support, although the plot is more twisty than it needs to be.