Selleck's Paradise Found
I'm not a big reader and so it should be little surprise when I confess to having never read one of Robert B. Parker's novels about Paradise and Chief of Police Jesse Stone but I did watch "Stone Cold" the first TV movie adapted from his books and was impressed. And I am as equally impressed by this follow up "Jesse Stone: Night Passage" which in fact is a prequel, explaining some of the mysteries surrounding Jesse Stone, why he left the city, his drinking problems and his arrival in Paradise whilst also giving us a crime for him to solve. It is again by no means a perfect movie, characters occasionally border on being caricatures and plot depth is certainly not of huge importance but Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone once again makes you want to watch by playing him as a fascinating character, flawed but thoughtful.
Having been discovered drinking on the job former detective Jesse Stone (Tom Selleck - The Love Letter) leaves Santa Monica, California and along with his faithful companion Boomer drives across country to Paradise, Massachusetts where he has been invited to an interview as their new Chief of Police. Despite arriving stinking of booze and with a hangover Jesse is offered the position by the top counsellor Hastings Hathaway (Saul Rubinek - The Family Man) following Chief Lou Carson's (Mike Starr) early retirement. Whilst Jesse tries to settle into his new position, making an enemy of wife beating husband Joe Genest (Stephen Baldwin - Threesome) by kicking him in the nuts whilst also starting a relationship with local attorney Abby Taylor (Polly Shannon), he questions why a man stinking of booze would be offered the job. And he becomes more concerned when Lou is found dead and begins to suspect that Joe and Hastings are actually working together laundering money, he just needs to make something happen to prove it.
Now to be honest "Jesse Stone: Night Passage" is really all about how Jesse Stone ended up the Chief of Police in Paradise, it's about explaining some of the mysteries which we encountered during "Stone Cold" such as why Jesse has a drink problem. As such technically you can watch it without having watched "Stone Cold" but in a way it has that something extra if you have seen "Stone Cold" as suddenly you realise the significance of certain things in the first movie. For example in "Stone Cold" he asks a young girl to look after a dog, the significance of which is explained in this as we watch Jesse have to deal with his dog of many years Boomer becoming seriously ill. We also see how friendships are formed, the simple respect between Jesse and dispatcher Molly as well as the romance between him and Abby. Plus of course it explains his drinking, the reason why he left his job in the city and the closeness he has with his ex-wife.
But all this explanation is then interweaved with what is a weak crime story as we watch a hung over Jesse Stone offered the job of Chief of Police by Hastings Hathaway because Hastings sees him as a pushover especially as he is laundering money. And so this crime story evolves as Jesse becomes suspicious of why a heavy drinker would get the job, why former Chief of Police Lou retired so early and why he was killed and what has wife beater Joe Genest got to do with all this. It is all rather weak feeling like it's been concocted via various cliches but it nicely interweaves with Jesse's back story and establishing his character as this thoughtful man, who whilst a lawman isn't afraid to dish out a beating if need be and put his life on the line. And it also establishes that kindness and protective nature to children as he tries to help out Michelle Genest as she is on the verge of becoming trouble.
But like with "Stone Cold" "Jesse Stone: Night Passage" is entertaining because of Tom Selleck, because he creates such a wonderful character. There is the cliche side to Jesse, the charmer who doesn't mind flirting with a pretty woman as well as his drinking problems but then there is the more interesting side, the thoughtful guy who is friendly to those he feels he can trust and protective of those who need him. It is in many ways a beautiful character because it is through his quiet ways of doing things that we get drawn into what is happening and ignore how weak the actual storyline is. What is nice is that whilst Stephen Baldwin and Saul Rubinek end up being a little too pantomime like as the movies villains the rest of the cast which include Viola Davis, Kohl Sudduth and Polly Shannon feel more comfortable in their characters.
What this all boils down to is that if you enjoyed "Stone Cold" you are going to enjoy "Jesse Stone: Night Passage" almost as much as whilst it is a prequel and explains a lot about Jesse it has the same style and charm. And that really comes down to Tom Selleck who is once again on fine form as Jesse Stone.
Tags: Jesse Stone Movies