DVD Review: JESSE STONE: THIN ICE

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Original airdate: March 1, 2009 on CBS
DVD release date: June 16, 2009
Runtime: 88 minutes
Rated: PG
Stars: Tom Selleck, Kathy Baker, Kohl Sudduth, Leslie Hope, Stephen McHattie.
Teleplay by Ronni Kern
Story by Ronni Kern, Tom Selleck, and Michael Brandman
Directed by Robert Harmon

The fifth TV movie based on Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone, Thin Ice is the first not based on an existing Parker novel. The movie opens with Stone helping State Police Capt. Healy (McHattie) with a stakeout that ends with them both shot. Healy is wounded more severely than Jesse, and for a while it isn’t clear he’ll survive. A member of Paradise’s town council council comes down on Jesse for moonlighting and threatens to suspend him. Jesse goes after the shooter anyway.

The main plot involves a woman (Camryn Manheim) who has come to Paradise from New Mexico looking for her son, kidnapped five years earlier. While Jesse isn’t too hopeful about finding the boy, he lets Officer Rose Gammon (Kathy Baker) pursue the case.

All of the Stone movies (beginning with 2005’s Stone Cold), have taken darker twists than Parker’s novels. Parker’s books tend to wrap up neatly, with no significant continuing arcs. Meanwhile in the movies, Jesse’s protege Suitcase Simpson (Sudduth) fell into a coma after a shootout, and though he has returned to duty, he may never be his old self again.

Similarly, Thin Ice doesn’t end well for Jesse. He discovers what became of the kidnapped boy too late to do anything about it. The town council follows through on its threat to suspend him. It’s not at all what Parker would write, but it left me more curious than anything Parker has written in the past five years. Many critics, myself included, have said Tom Selleck has come to own the role of Jesse Stone, though he is twenty-five years older than the Stone of the books. Thin Ice proves his performance and a screenwriter’s grasp of the rhythm of Parker’s dialogue can carry a movie.

The DVD features scene selection and optional English subtitles, but no behind-the-scenes material.

–Gerald So