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Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt (DVD Review)

9 Aug, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Sony Pictures
$26.99 DVD
Not rated.
Stars Tom Selleck, Kathy Baker, Gloria Reuben, Robert Carradine, Saul Rubinek, William Devane, William Sadler.

Veteran actor Tom Selleck reprises his role for the eighth time as police chief Jesse Stone in the fictional East Coast town of Paradise after the current chief and another officer are killed when their booby-trapped squad car explodes while out on a call.

These movies are based on the popular “Jesse Stone” book series by author Robert Parker. Selleck has come to define the titular character’s laconic coffee- and whiskey-drinking lawman with facial expressions and emotional reserve that underscore a penchant more for seeking justice than following the letter of the law.

With most of his former staff departed following his retirement, Stone is left to improvise getting into the locked police station (and setting off the alarm in the process) as well as find the killer(s) of the slain officers — the latter with limited assistance from a member of the justice department. The caustic banter between the two lies at the heart of “Stone’s” appeal: a serialized crime drama (think A&E’s “Longmire”) that is more dependent on what isn’t said, local scenery (opening seascape footage is impressive) and character contemplation than fisticuffs and special effects.

Stone’s arguably imperfect human qualities and outsized screen presence also underscore an enduring appeal with women, including a pretty personal assistant to a local boxing promoter and potential suspect. The fact Stone is old enough to be the young woman’s father is overshadowed by plot points gleaned during a flirtatious cup of coffee.

While longtime fans of the made-for-TV movie franchise (which started in 2005) may appreciate select characters’ evolvements and plot turns, Benefit of the Doubt held enough intrigue to captivate this first-time viewer.

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