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Featured DVD Review: Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost

August 1st, 2011

Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost - Buy from Amazon

Innocents Lost is the seventh film in the Jesse Stone series. I've only reviewed one of the previous six installments, No Remorse. My only major complaint last time around was how difficult it was to get into the film without having seen the previous films. Will this one be kinder to neophytes? Will established fans enjoy the film?

The Movie

I can answer the first question right away. No. Much of the film deals with the same character driven issues. Largest of these is Jesse Stone's suspension as police chief of Paradise, but this time there's a new replacement, who has political connections. He's also trying to get over his divorce, while trying to reconnect with his ex-wife, whom he severed contact with in the last film. And of course there's his drinking problem that's he's been struggling with since he lost his job.

There are also two deaths he is investigating. The first is a drug-overdose by Cindy Van Aldan, a daughter of one of the richer members of Paradise, who had crossed paths with Jesse Stone before. The two had become friends after Jesse helped her when she was dealing with alcohol addiction; however, they had lost touch for a while. Two days before she died, she had sent Jesse a letter out of the blue, and Jesse's determined to learn why she died, even if the new police chief is quick to write it off as a suicide. The second death involves the murder of a convenience store clerk, who was shot three times in the face. Commander Healy, a Boston cop, asked Jesse to look into it, even though they have a suspect whose trail is nearing its end. (No verdict yet, but the defense has at least started its case.) Despite the evidence, Commander Healy thinks they might have the wrong guy, and with a really bad public defender, conviction is almost guaranteed. When Jesse tries to talk to him and asks for an alibi, the public defender won't even let him talk about it. That raises a red flag right there.

When this movie first aired on TV, it was one of the most watched programs for the week. However, its ratings among the prime demo were, well, terrible. (It was 1.3 for the prime demo vs. more than 13 million total viewers.) I think this goes a long way in describing the quality of the movie. It's a very well made movie, but compared to most police procedurals, it has a very deliberate pace with more of the running time devoted to ongoing character development than the two mysteries being solved. Fortunately, the characters are compelling and the acting is top-notch across the board. It did have the same flaws as the previous installment, including a lack of accessibility for newcomers. Additionally, we didn't get a lot of closure for the character driven plot threads. Clearly this won't be last film in this series. They can't end it like that.

Overall, I don't think it is quite as good as No Remorse, as it is a little repetitive and slightly dreary. Okay, it's really dreary. But it is at worse close to the average for the franchise so far, and fans of the series will want to see it, and after they do, they will be looking forward to the next film.

The Extras

There are absolutely no extras on the DVD.

The Verdict

Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost feels less like a TV movie than it does a TV series with extended episodes and an irregular schedule. This has some benefits, including time to develop characters more per episode. But also some drawbacks, including being unfriendly to newcomes. (Plus, the time between installments would make a recap useful.) The lack of extras on the DVD is disappointing, but not unexpected, and if you have purchased the previous films, this one is also worth picking up.

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