Stone Casts a Shadow
As TV movies go the "Jesse Stone" movies have always worked because of a combination of three things the continuation of life in Paradise, Jesse's battle with his demons and then a couple of crimes to be dealt with. It is a formula which has been successful, making it acceptable that there was yet another crime for Jesse to be involved with because his circumstances changed. But unfortunately when it comes to "Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt" the formula sort of disappears because whilst we have a little bit about Jesse and his problems as well as those concerning Luther and Rose the focus of this 8th "Jesse Stone" movie is the crime. It loses that nice continuation and with both Luther and Rose having quit the Paradise Police Department it also loses that sense of collaboration and becomes almost a one man show. Ironically "Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt" isn't bad but not as good as the previous movies in the "Jesse Stone" series.
When the new Paradise Police Chief and the reinstated Office D'Angelo (Vito Rezza) are blown up attending an emergency call Jesse Stone (Tom Selleck - Monte Walsh) is asked by Councilman Hanson (Jeremy Akerman) and Hasty Hathaway (Saul Rubinek - War) whether he will become the Chief again. But things have changed at the Paradise Police Department and I am not just on about the locks and alarm codes as both Luther (Kohl Sudduth) and Rose (Kathy Baker) have quit. With little support Jesse must try and get to the bottom of who blew up the car especially as the State Police lead by Captain Healy (Stephen McHattie) suspect the murdered Chief of being crooked.
So as already pointed out the formula which has served the "Jesse Stone" movies so well is tampered with in "Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt" and it doesn't quite work. The element of Jesse battling his demons and seeing Dr. Dix is played right down and the continuation of the friendships which Jesse has with Luther and Rose is also lacking. It's lacking because as we learn both Luther and Rose quit whilst William Butler was Chief of Paradise and have moved on. These two elements have been such a big part of the success of the series that with them being minor elements in this 8th movie it feels wrong.
What this means is that "Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt" becomes almost a one man show because we have Jesse back as Chief of Police following the murder of Butler and D'Angelo. We have him investigating who could have wanted them dead whilst also dealing with Captain Healy as state police believe that Butler may have been dirty. Now on one hand this is good because the revelations of all this delivers a nice twist on things we have come to know about the various people which Jesse speaks to. But then on the other it is also lacking because all we have is one crime and so we don't have the secondary little crime for Jesse to be involved with which usually showed his compassionate side.
In many ways this tinkering with the formula is a shame because what happens in "Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt" is still good, what Jesse discovers is still good, the moments of action are still good and the relationship between Jesse and Councilman Hanson is interesting. And Tom Selleck plus all those who return to their roles be it William Sadler as Gino Fish or Paul Rubinek as Hasty all do a good job, it is purely the messing about with the formula which spoils this 8th movie in the series.
On the subject of this being the 8th movie in the "Jesse Stone" series you do wonder how many more their can be and part of me almost thinks that "Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt" could be the last. Certain elements such as Jesse's relationship with Reggie the dog suggest that closure is not far off and there is also a cryptic clue when Jesse sits down to watch "The Last Hurrah". But at the same time there isn't complete closure, there are elements which are left up in the air so that maybe there will be a 9th Jesse Stone movie, maybe their won't.
What this all boils down to is that "Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt" is a satisfactory movie in the "Jesse Stone" series but because the formula has been tinkered with it loses something. Having said that some of the revelations in this 8th movie are very good and it has left it nicely open that maybe there will be another Jesse Stone movie.
Tags: Jesse Stone Movies