A woman believes her kidnapped son is in Paradise, Jesse is shot and wants to find the gunman and the city council wants to suspend him. It’s all in the life of Jesse Stone.

The Lowdown

I was a late comer to the Jesse Stone character. I have read Robert Parker for a long time but, as I tend to do, I chose to remain faithful to a specific character in the author’s novels. I read James Patterson, but stick with Alex Cross. I read John Stanford, but stick with Lucas Davenport. I read Robert Parker, but have always stuck with Spenser. I have wondered lately if maybe I should try his Jesse Stone series and that is in large part due to the Tom Selleck starring made-for-TV series based on the character.

I reviewed Jesse Stone: Sea Change almost two years ago and thought about catching up on the films that came before. I never did watch the three preceding movies, thanks in large part to my opinion that “At the end of the day, Sea Change is a completely forgettable movie but the character of Jesse Stone is one that will stick around the back of your mind. The movie may not be that great, but after watching it you really find yourself wanting more. There is a great series to be found here, I just hope that the adventures are stronger in future installments.

Jesse Stone: Thin Ice is the next movie in the series and my wish was granted.

My biggest complaint about Sea Change is that the mystery was un-engaging and the setup was poor enough to not make you care. Thin Ice takes three different storylines and wraps the story around them in a very engaging way. The title has multiple meanings. The first is a revelation at the end of the movie that wraps up one of the mysteries. The other meaning is Jesse Stone finding himself on thin ice the entire movie with his job on the line.

At the end of Sea Change, Jesse forces a fellow officer out of the force and that makes him an enemy to members of the city counsel who liked that officer because he wrote the most speed trap tickets, a large source of revenue to the town. Jesse doesn’t care about unethical speed traps and prefers to be a law enforcement officer, not a ticket writer. He also understands that this might be his last stop because who is going to hire a cop who gets fired from a place like Paradise, Massachusetts.

Once again, the main selling point of the Jesse Stone series is Tom Selleck, an actor who has come miles since his breakout as Thomas Magnum. Selleck plays a damaged man better than anyone I have seen in a long time and I can live with him making his living on the small screen because he is doing so well at it. He also has a large hand in this film as the writer of the script, the first in the series to not be based on a Robert Parker novel.

At the start of the movie Jesse and a friend are shot by an unknown assailant in Boston. Jesse wants to find out who did it but is being cut off by an internal affairs officer and the city counsel of Paradise who do not want him to leave the town for any reason (“this isn’t a 9 to 5 job”). He is also paid a visit by a woman who believes her baby was switched out at the hospital seven years earlier and replaced with a dead child. The woman received a letter two years earlier from Paradise saying that her child is loved.

The two mysteries wrap themselves up tightly, one in a generic manner befitting a gumshoe detective story and the second in a heartbreaking twist that I didn’t see coming. All along the way, Selleck gives Jesse Stone a life and personality that makes you care what happens to him at each and every turn. The movie ends on a cliffhanger with Stone riding a bus out of town and you are ready for the next installment. While some may complain that the mysteries are only secondary to the film that is entirely the reason I find this movie so interesting. Some characters show up and then disappear, never to be heard from again. The obligatory supporting characters make their appearances and then drift out of the story. Even the mysteries end and then just fade away. While all this seems to be poor storytelling, I find it to be a good way to tell the real story of a damaged man and his drifting through life, trying to find himself.

Unlike Sea ChangeThin Ice hits on a variety of levels. I left the previous movie interested but unimpressed. With Thin Ice, I am extremely interested to see where the story leads. It is strange to find myself so invested in a batch of TV movies but I am and Tom Selleck is the entire reason. No Remorse is the next in the series and, while listed as a 2009 release, looks to have been pushed back to 2010. I can’t recommend Thin Ice enough.

The Package

Nothing, as usual.