A rare major-network movie franchise that consistently delivers, commercially as well as creatively.
Tom Selleck is back for a sixth go-round as Jesse Stone, the damaged, boozing, laconic big-city cop forced to take refuge in the hamlet of Paradise, Mass. Suspended in the last outing, “No Remorse” finds Jesse moonlighting on a series of Boston murders, while his overwhelmed deputies must deal with their own robbery spree at home. Mostly, it’s another grand excuse to see Selleck and the colorful denizens of the late Robert B. Parker’s bluesy world — and a rare major-network movie franchise that consistently delivers, commercially as well as creatively.
One of the benefits for those who have followed the Stone movies from the get-go is that producer/co-writer/star Selleck (again collaborating with Michael Brandman and director Robert Harmon) keeps bringing back earlier characters from movie to movie, adding layers to what otherwise would be fairly conventional cop drama.
Mostly, though, the simple pleasure here is watching Selleck in a role that fits him like a glove. Even the scenes with his golden retriever — who, he’s convinced, looks at him accusingly when he drinks — have a wry wit to them. The police work, in fact, often feels almost like an afterthought.
Held in limbo regarding his future in Paradise, Jesse is recruited by a former colleague (Stephen McHattie) to investigate seemingly random killings, which bring him into contact with mob boss Gino Fish (wonderfully played by William Sadler), with whom he’s sparred in the past. Meanwhile, Jesse works on his personal problems in periodic chats with his shrink, Dr. Dix (William Devane), a former cop and recovering drunk himself.
Back in Paradise, deputies Luther (Kohl Sudduth) and Rose (Kathy Baker) must try to stay afloat despite Jesse’s suspension. And for all his self-destructive tendencies, Jesse has an endearing soft spot for those closest to him.
In a way, the Stone movies and FX’s “Justified” have managed to bring back the Western, albeit by cloaking those values in modern dress. Both efforts feature plain-spoken lawmen who are more comfortable figuring out whodunit than managing their own damaged lives.
With Selleck potentially getting back into series, the Stone pics might have run their course, but they’ve already been a boon to both CBS and the mostly moribund TV-movie biz. From that perspective, those associated with them should have no remorse, indeed.