CBS’ series of Jessie stone TV-movies is the last of its kind and has lasted for several years because it has been a perfect blend of mood/tone and substance. The seventh in the series, Innocents Lost [9/8C] is the first to falter.
Jesse Stone [Tom Selleck, who co-wrote the piece with Michael Brandman] has been fired as police chief of Paradise and his replacement is, more or less, a puppet of the town council – his primary interest is keeping the town’s image pristine so as not to dissuade tourists.
When a young woman is found dead at the edge of Paradise’s town limits, Jesse believes it’s not an accident – partly because he knew her. At the same time, his old pal, State Homicide Commander Healy [the reliable Stephen McHattie] is having a problem with a murder case in which the prime suspect is most unusual and enlists Jesse’s aid to find out why.
With the usual able support from Suitcase [Kohl Sudduth] and rose [Kathy Baker], you’d think that Innocents Lost would be as solid an entry as the previous six Jesse Stone movies. It’s beautifully shot and the performances are uniformly very good – Selleck has really found the sweet spot in Jesse’s alcoholism and depression; Sudduth continues to nail the part of Suitcase, the good cop who occasionally flashes back to the previous chief; Baker’s Rose is wise and compassionate in a genuine, caring way – but the movie concentrates so much on Jesse’s problems that the Boston murder and the death of Jesse’s acquaintance carry little weight. Considering that he learns that he might, in part, be responsible for her death, this is a shame.
Even the bit of levity in Jesse’s odd business relationship/not-quite-friendship with boxing promoter/crime boss Gino [Bill Sadler] feels very much pro forma. And his half-hearted efforts to connect with his adopted dog, Reggie, seems to be given time simply because the story is so thin that a few extra Boomer moments might give the movie a much needed ‘awwww factor.’
There’s a half-hearted effort to say something about mass market drug and alcohol rehabilitation businesses, but even there, insufficient time is given for that to develop in any kind of meaningful way.
Perhaps Innocents Lost would be a better movie if Jesse’s dalliance with a used car salesperson [Gloria Reuben] had been given enough space to generate even a flicker of happiness in Jesse’s life. After six very entertaining Jesse Stone movies, surely it’s not too much to ask for just a few seconds of respite from his moroseness.
In the end, Innocents Lost looks great but is less than satisfying.
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