LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - After more than a dozen years and a half-dozen TV movies, it's fair to ask just how well the "Jesse Stone" franchise is holding up. Judging from the latest film, "No Remorse," the answer is quite nicely, thank you.
Tom Selleck has an uncanny feel for this lone wolf of a cop even as he nudges the character forward. He and fellow executive producer Michael Brandman wrote this telefilm in a style that is recognizably inspired by Stone's late creator, Robert B. Parker. Its complex tone and pacing more closely resemble real life than TV fare. Working together, these elements make the franchise feel as fresh as when it began in 1997.
Like the others, "Remorse" is as much character study as crime drama. Once more, Stone battles familiar demons of booze and women as he struggles to acknowledge his present situation. A fiercely independent streak got Stone suspended from his job as Paradise police chief. His closest friends on the force are in danger of being fired just because they are friends. But all of that is little more than a backdrop when a couple of brazen killings suggest the possibility that a serial killer is on the loose. In no time, Stone is unofficially contacted for help as a "temporary consultant."
There isn't much forensic evidence, which is fine because Stone often relies on hunches to piece things together. In this instance, someone's offhand remark almost instantly tells Stone the identity of the likely killer and the motive. Case closed.
That reliance on intuition would be stunningly uncharacteristic for most crime dramas, but it is very much in character for Stone, whose personal life is similarly imprecise, rudderless and framed by feelings of sadness and feigned indifference.
Indeed, some of the best moments of a Stone film, including this one, are his encounters with other residents of Paradise, including police officers Rose Gammon (Kathy Baker) and Kohl Sudduth (Luther "Suitcase" Simpson) as well as his psychiatrist (William Devane) and the used-car salesman (Saul Rubinek) newly released from prison.
Stone is more than a grizzled detective. He's a loyal friend, a protective neighbor, a cynical observer, an object of romance and a pet owner reluctant to commit affection to the dog he adopted more than three years earlier. He remains a fascinating character to watch.