Former LAPD Detective does battle with the Boston mob.
Hi everybody, I was planning to review a different film in the series, but I remembered that this is actually the first part of the story line.
LAPD homicide detective Jesse Stone (Tom Selleck) has quite a few problems on his mind. His wife has left him, his alcoholism is spiraling out of control and his department has fired him for drinking on the job. The first scene in the film shows him staring out into the ocean waiting to sober up.
With few prospects available he jumps at a job offer for police chief of the small town of Paradise, Massachusetts. After a night of drinking and a spectacular phone argument with his wife; Jesse shows up drunk to the job interview. To his surprise he actually gets the job. Of course, this makes him start to wonder what’s really going on in the town.
What he doesn’t know is that the corrupt town council has “retired” and paid off the departing chief. They believe Jesse Stone will be a pushover due to his alcoholism and easier to manipulate. The town’s corrupt connections include dangerous elements of the Boston underworld.
The mob has disastrously underestimated their new police chief who is a very good cop, drunk or sober and isn’t afraid to get into a battle with them. But first he has to bring around a demoralized and corrupt police department and turn them into a real police force.
Jesse Stone: Night Passage is actually the first film in the series, even though it was shown out of order originally. The films are based on a series of novels by Robert B. Parker.
The production values are much higher than is typical for a made for TV production. The day shots are in gorgeous saturated color and contrast nicely with the dark noir-ish night time scenes. I’m not sure where the fictional town of Paradise is filmed, but it’s a beautiful area.
The storyline and characters are also dark. Jesse is a barely recovering alcoholic with emotional issues and a violent temper. He also has years of experience as a detective and some formidable fighting skills. These are demonstrated several times in the film, such as when he puts down a violent domestic abuser with a kick to the groin and a calm threat to do worse if the abuse continues. The fact that the abuser is a mob enforcer shows how unintimidated Chief Stone is of the underworld figures he does battle with.
Tom Selleck’s performance is an excellent and nuanced portrayal of a dangerous man on the very edge of his limits. Also notable are Saul Rubinek as corrupt politician Hasty Hathaway and Viola Davis as Molly, the department dispatcher.
I will be reviewing the rest of the films in the series over the next few months.
Verdict: 3.5 Gavels out of 5
Excellent, atmospheric TV movie, well worth your time if you like anti-heroes and damaged characters in a dark neo-noir setting.