A dose of morose suits Judge Russell Engebretson just fine.
Tom Selleck returns as Paradise's anguished former Chief of Police, Jesse Stone, in his most gripping mystery yet.
In the latest episode of the made-for-television movie series, Jesse Stone (Tom Selleck, Quigley Down Under) is at loose ends and more morose than usual. Even Jesse's golden retriever, Reggie, is glum and downcast. In the prior episode, Jesse Stone: No Remorse, Stone was dumped from his small-town job as police chief of Paradise, thanks to the underhanded political machinations of the town council. Now a councilman's smarmy son-in-law has taken Stone's former job and is busily undermining the morale of the police department. Jesse Stone's mope-fest, however, is curtailed when a young female friend he has not seen in years is found dead within the city limits. Stone's inquiries turn up an old boyfriend who may be connected to her death, but Stone's semi-official investigation is making his former police colleagues more than a little nervous as they are increasingly pressured by their new chief to cut all ties with their former boss.
This is the seventh installment of the TV movie series that premiered in 2005. For whatever reason, the last three movie scripts, penned by Tom Selleck and Michael Brandman, are based on the late novelist Robert B. Parker's characters rather than a specific book. Similar to its predecessors, the movie delivers a solid, well-told cop mystery with more than an average amount of character development. This time around, though, a degree of repetitiveness has crept into the series: Jesse is still depressed over his divorce; he still knocks back too much neat Scotch; he once again dispatches a bad guy in his house; sessions with his psychiatrist cover much of the same old ground. It seems this episode is marking time rather than moving events forward, although the movie ends with the tantalizing promise of a re-invigorated Jesse Stone, ready to fight to regain his old job. Hopefully, this entry in the series is only a hiatus in preparation for the next installment.
As for the DVD transfer, there isn't much surround sound action, but the audio is serviceable and the dialogue clear. The picture is a bit on the soft side, even for standard definition. Selleck is about twenty-five years older than the book character of Jesse—perhaps the softness is intended to erase a few years from his face. Contrast is hazy, making blacks look more like dark gray and giving a murky cast to the many rainy days and under-lit interior scenes. Colors are passably good, but rather dull in keeping with the overall appearance of the film. There are no extras except for a handful of previews.
If you have not been following the Jesse Stone movies, this isn't the best place to start. Several characters have come and gone, and lots of backstory is assumed to be known by the viewer; there is no recap of previous shows. Innocents Lost is a lesser entry in the series, possibly the weakest so far, but still an enjoyable enough one-time watch. Selleck is perfect in the role of the taciturn, tormented cop, and the supporting cast is uniformly first-rate. In particular, Kohl Suddtuh as Luther "Suitcase" Simpson—a charming oddball in the earlier episodes—has become a more rounded character rather than just a foil to Stone's straight man; and Kathy Baker as Rose Gammon once again proves she is one of the most underrated actresses around. Even though this is a below average entry in the Jesse Stone series, Innocents Lost is a must-see for fans.
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