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STONE COLD

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Tom Selleck, Viola Davis, Jane Adams, Reg Rogers, Polly Shannon, Alexis Dziena, Mimi Rogers
Director: Robert Harmon
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Sony Home Entertainment
Features: See Review
Length: 87 Minutes
Release Date: June 28, 2005

“Is it official? No, it’s personal.”

Film **1/2

Before I delve into my initial review of this movie, I think I should explain how I came to review this.

When I saw the title Stone Cold, and saw that Sony was releasing it onto DVD, I had a totally other movie in mind. I thought the cheesefest action flick from 1991 starring former NFL player Brian Bosworth was making a long awaited debut to the format. In the movie The Boz, with his signature blonde Mohawk, played an undercover cop who infiltrates a sinister biker gang led by Lance Henriksen, who played this role about every week, it seemed.

Back when it was on VHS, Columbia Tri Star was the distributor, so I was under the assumption that they were putting this movie onto DVD. While I’m at it, I might as well throw a request out to Sony. If you guys still own the rights to this movie, allow me to issue a request for it to hit DVD soon, Thanks! In the meantime, we have a 2005 release with the same title.

Tom Selleck seems to have found a home in movies made for TV and for cable. The former star of the 80s hit series, Magnum P.I., became something of an icon for two reasons; the aforementioned show and the fact that he Steven Spielberg’s first choice to play Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Both during and following the success of Magnum, Selleck was spotted in several big screen features, most notably Three Men and a Baby, in addition to two favorites of mine, the forgotten 1984 sci-fi thriller Runaway and the 1990 western comedy Quigley Down Under. And who could ever forget his surprise turn as a gay TV reporter in In & Out?

If you’ve been wondering where Mr. Selleck has been these last several years, he’s back exactly where he started, on the small screen, his most noted effort of such has been his portrayal of President Eisenhower in Ike: Countdown to D-Day. Now, Selleck and director Robert Harmon have re-teamed for Stone Cold, a murder mystery based on the bestseller by Robert B. Parker.

Selleck is in fine form as Jesse Stone, a former L.A. detective who is now the police chief of a small New England town. Stone is a man with a past, with a hard drinking habit that is no doubt related to the separation from his wife. With his new job, Stone tries to put his life back together in a town where nothing much happens.

But soon, a series of murders start developing in the town. After several bodies turn up with the same execution style, Stone finds himself hunting down a serial killer, or possibly killers. At the same time, Stone becomes involved in a case concerning young rape victim, who’s been threatened with murder if she tells anyone.

While Stone Cold is a lot more effective than your average TV movie, it does have a flaw or two within it. For one thing, the identity of the killers is revealed way too early, and the movie doesn’t benefit much as a result. And this isn’t exactly one of the more unpredictable thrillers I’ve ever seen.

What is satisfying, however, is Selleck’s nicely toned performance, and the level of atmosphere created by way of director Harmon. The harborside town does feel like something of an original setting. As far as TV movies go, this has one of the better looks and level style than I’ve seen.

Stone Cold is very much a mixed bag. I’ve never been a huge fan of TV movies, and this one certainly has the pacing and feel of a traditional small-screen movie, which prevents me from fully recommending it, but believe me when I say one can do a whole lot worse than this movie.

Video ***1/2

This anamorphic offering from Sony Home Entertainment is very well handled. The atmospheric setting looks quite breathtaking in this presentation, and image clarity is at a most satisfying level. Most of the movie takes place at night, and despite a hint or two of image softness, this is a most impressive transfer for a TV movie.

Audio ***

The 5.1 mix does a nice job of incorporating sharp clarity in many areas. Dialogue delivery is strongly heard, and the set pieces, especially the flowing water at the town’s beach, is heard well and distinctly. Several scenes of suspense/gunfire register good, as well.

Features **

Included is a brief but informative enough featurette titled “Beneath the Surface of Stone Cold”, and several previews for additional Sony releases, including Layer Cake, Kung Fu Hustle and Lords of Dogtown.

Summary:

While Stone Cold actually to be a bit better than I expected, it still carries the traits of a movie limited to the TV, which for a pure moviegoer, simply isn’t enough. But it is nice to see Mr. Selleck in top form, and he is the best thing about the movie.

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