(2002)

Prepare for adventure. Count on revenge.

Edmond Dantés's life and plans to marry the beautiful Mercedes are shattered when his best friend, Fernand, deceives him. After spending 13 miserable years in prison, Dantés escapes with the help of a fellow inmate and plots his revenge, cleverly insinuating himself into the French nobility.

Fantastic story given a quite smashing adaptation.
Every once in a while, when Hollywood is stuck for new swashbuckling ideas, they turn to the writer of "The Three Musketeers", "The Man In The Iron Mask" and "The Count Of Monte Cristo", one Alexandre Dumas père. Which of course is no bad thing as long as the adaptation is given care and consideration - which hasn't always been the case. So when it was announced that the director of Waterworld, Kevin Reynolds, was to direct the latest version of "The Count Of Monte Cristo", many feared the worst. Made for around $35 million, Reynolds' film fared OK at the Worldwide box office, taking in around $76 million. Yet although far from being a flop, it upped and vanished rather quickly and was barely given a mention come the arrival of 2003. Thankfully the film gathered momentum with the rental releases and is now firmly established as a much loved genre piece.
On the two big hitting movie internet sites, Rotten Tomatoes & IMDb, the film scores 75% and 7.5 respectively, that's about right I would say. Reynolds' film doesn't bring anything new to the table as regards the story, but if it isn't broke then why fix it? Staying safe and true to the spirit of the source, Reynolds has simply crafted a rip roaring movie about betrayal, torture, faith, revenge and love. The makers have costumed it up and added the necessary sword play ingredient. All that was needed was for his cast to deliver performances worthy of such period shenanigans. And he got them.
James Caviezel plays Edmond Dantes. Two years away from playing Jesus Christ, the role that would make his name known, Caviezel had prior to Cristo looked anything but a leading man. But here he finds a role to get his teeth into and it's a comfortable fit, and crucially he seems to be having a good time with it. No such point to prove for Guy Pearce (Fernand Mondego) though, for he already had "L.A. Confidential" & "Memento" under his belt. Here he gives it the full pompous villain act and struts around like some dandy spoiled brat. It's a film stealing performance that shows that the guy who played Mike Young in Aussie soaper Neighbours, has indeed come a long way. Richard Harris adds a touch of class as Abbé Faria, gravel voiced Michael Wincott does a nice line in sadistic bastard as the Château D'If governor, Armand Dorleac. While Luis Guzmán as Jacopo is fun comic relief and Dagmara Dominczyk as Mercedès Iguanada is both sensual and heartfelt.
Never over camping the movie, Reynolds keeps it pacey and dots it with smart set pieces and memorable scenes. Backed up by an on form cast and a sure fire source story to work from, "The Count Of Monte Cristo" turns out to be period winner. So see it if you haven't done so already. 8/10

Touchstone Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, World 2000 Entertainment, Count of Monte Cristo Ltd. by Kevin Reynolds, Alexandre Dumas, Jay Wolpert.
Stars: Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Christopher Adamson.

Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama

Keywords: loss of loved one based on novel or book marseille, france treasure lover (female) ex-lover napoleon bonaparte sword fight prison escape torture period drama historical swashbuckler betrayal by friend 19th century

01/25/2002

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