Flashbacks & Backdrafts
"Blue Smoke" is the 6th Nora Roberts' movie I've watched and like with all the others it is another mix of thriller and romance, another flawed movie but one which is also strangely entertaining. I don't know what it is because "Blue Smoke" is at times cheesy, the whole romantic element borders on "Mills & Boon", Reena's family border on being a comical cliche and the coincidental nature of the story not only makes it unbelievable but not such a huge shock when the mystery, thriller aspect is solved. Yet still I found myself enjoying every moment of it, the cheesy moment as Reena sees love interest Bo working with his top off or when we get a touch of action and as for Reena's cliche family well they may be corny but nothing wrong with Pizza & Pasta to solve a few issues.
As an 11 year old Reena Hale (Alicia Witt - Two Weeks Notice) witnessed her parents restaurant Sirico's burn down, set on fire by Joe Pastorelli Sr. (David Brown) after there was an argument between him and her dad. But that experience changed her life for ever as not only did she know from then on in she would love fire but that she wanted to become a fire investigator just like John Minger (Scott Bakula - American Beauty) who she met as he examined the burnt ashes of the restaurant. 15 years later and Reena has achieved what she set out to do, she is a fire investigator working alongside John and doing a great job. But it seems someone has it in for her and any man who gets close as her first true love Josh died in a fire and then her second Hugh also died in flames and for Reena she believes that Pastorelli is trying to get her back for being thrown inside for the arson all those years earlier.
In all honesty "Blue Smoke" starts a bit rockily, we enter with a grown up Reena going through her final training to become a fire investigator and as we watch her crawl through a maze of flames she reminisces about how she came to love fire. And so we learn about the arson of the family restaurant when she was 11 and the father of a boy at her school being arrested for it. This whole opening just seems to go on for ever as one minute we have Reena in this maze of flames, looking for a way out the next delivering a flashback to something in her past. And it skips between the now and the past as we discover her first true love Josh ended up dying in a fire.
Thankfully once the intro is out of the way with and it culminates with her current boyfriend Hugh also ending up dying in a blaze things become simpler although again we jump forwards a few years. But from then on in we basically have Reena and her mentor trying to nail Joe Pastorelli Sr., the man who torched the family restaurant, for the murder of Hugh and if Reena is right the murder of Josh as well. So we watch as they try to prove it was him and with Reena feeling jinxed when it comes to love tries to resist the charms of Bo Goodnight, seriously are we doing James Bond here, but can't despite him having been obsessed with her for many years.
All of which is obviously a little far fetched, in fact it's more than far fetched and with plenty of coincidences everything slides into place nicely. And to be honest if you can't guess who it is who is tormenting Reena and blowing up her lovers then you seriously need to pay more attention it is that obvious.
But the daft thing is "Blue Smoke" for all its flaws and you can add cheesy eroticism to the list as well, it is still entertaining. Reena's pizza and pasta loving family maybe a complete walking cliche, father very protective, mother wants her daughter to meet a nice boy, but they add a nice touch of humour to things. The protective relationship between Reena and her mentor John Monger is also a bit cheesy but quite nice and whilst the action is so choreographed the short sharp bursts work nicely. And every single moment of romance is so over the top that it does border on being cheesy but fun.
As for the acting well Alicia Witt does a nice job as Reena, not exactly a memorable performance but for a TV movie plays a character with a few different layers of emotion. And whilst Matthew Settle as Bo Goodnight basically finds himself playing the handsome nice guy love interest he embraces the slight cheesiness of the character, not over playing it but still making him fun. And whilst there characters actually don't end up doing much both Scott Bakula as John Minger and Talia Shire as Reena's mum Bianca add something although I actually don't know what, maybe it's just their recognizable faces.
What this all boils down to is that "Blue Smoke" like other Nora Roberts' movies has various issues and should be watched in the knowledge that these romantic thrillers are a little cheesy, very coincidental and full of cliche as well as corny characters and dialogue. But like the other Nora Roberts' movies it is entertaining and despite finding yourself smirking at something which seems cheesy you do keep on watching.