For my generation, Tom Selleck's always gonna be Magnum P.I. - there's just no getting around it. He can tackle a wide variety of roles, demonstrate his impressive range, appear in a multitude of different projects but try though he might, he will never be anyone other than that Hawaiian-shirt wearing, mustache-sporting private eye who ruled television in the early Eighties. So it's a bit of a confluence of classic TV detectives as Selleck stars as Jesse Stone in an adaptation of Robert B. Parker's Stone Cold (Parker created the character of Spenser, with which Robert Urich is likewise inescapably linked) - Selleck even sports that no-nonsense facial hair you've come to know and love.
Stone, a former Los Angeles homicide detective transplanted to the quiet (and fictional) town of Paradise, Massachusetts, spends his days indulging in his two vices: ladies and liquor (preferably scotch) and enjoying the relative lack of major crimes. After a sudden series of murders, Stone is forced out of quiet semi-retirement and into solving what turns out to be a horrifying puzzle, involving demons from his past that must be dealt with in order to mete out justice.
Co-starring Mimi Rogers, Jane Adams and Viola Davis, Stone Cold is an above average TV movie that's clearly been spiced up a bit for its DVD release (it debuted on CBS in February 2005) - the film now carries an R rating for violence and sex that I can't imagine was broadcast initially. As such, it often feels like a low-end Cinemax matinee, albeit much better acted than those straight-to-video cheesefests.
Stone Cold doesn't break any new ground and it isn't particularly shocking, but it is competent and enjoyably diverting for what it is - a handsomely mounted, well-acted murder mystery that has aspirations towards gritty, Forties-style noir homage but settles for merely being an occasionally chiarscuro entertainment.
Stone Cold is presented in a clean, mostly clear 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer - some of the more lowly lit scenes suffer from video noise and a significant amount of grain but overall, it's a sharp-looking image that highlights the spectacular location photography.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack doesn't boast many surprises, rather it's a solid, atmospheric addition to the film that utilizes spare surround effects and allows the dialogue to be heard without a trace of distortion or drop-out.
Considering that Stone Cold is a made-for-TV movie, it's a little surprising that any supplemental materials were included but the 11-minute "Beneath the Surface of 'Stone Cold'" does a decent job of giving some background into why executive producer/star Selleck chose to participate in this Parker adaptation. Also on board are trailers for XXX: State of the Union, Kung Fu Hustle, The Brooke Ellison Story, DEBS, Lords of Dogtown, The Cave and Layer Cake.
Tom Selleck acquits himself well and fans of serial crime novelist Robert B. Parker will likely want to give Stone Cold a spin some rainy afternoon - it's a sharp, engaging drama that doesn't do more than it sets out to and for that, is easily recommended as a rental.