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   THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (2002) 

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CAST
Jim Caviezel
Guy Pearce
Richard Harris
James Frain
Dagmara Domincyzk
Michael Wincott
Luis Guzman
Christopher Adamson
JB Blanc
Henry Cavill

DIRECTED BY
Kevin Reynolds

PURCHASE


DVD




Time: 131 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama/Action/Romance


SYNOPSIS: A young man, falsely imprisoned by his jealous "friends," escapes and uses a hidden treasure to exact his revenge.

BOTTOM LINE: Caviezel's powerfully bitter portrayal of a young man betrayed by his best friend (Pearce) and devoted fiancée (Dominczyk) is the only spark of energy in this overlong, over-the-top attempt to bring classic literature to the big screen. Life is wonderful for Edmond Dantes until unceasing jealousy causes his friend Fernand to frame him for treason and get him locked away for life in a prison far, far away. The details are unimportant (and not that interesting), but the outcome leaves our hero in dire straights indeed and with enough time to plot his revenge. Fortunately for him, he meets a man in prison, the Abbe Faria (Harris), who bestows on him the money and the skills to carry out his vengeance.

Once he escapes from his island prison, his newly acquired companion Jacapo (Guzman) tries to reason with Edmond to take the treasure (given to him by Faria) and run, to forget about his old life and start fresh, enjoying his massive wealth and freedom. Unfortunately the decades of pain and isolation left him with only one life goal: to make those responsible for destroying his life suffer as he has. He creates a mysterious, new identity – the Count of Monte Cristo – and uses his money to infiltrate the lives of his enemies. No one, not even his ex-lover Mercedes, is exempt from his wraith.

While the basic bones of the story hold everything a viewer could want in a film – romance, action, intrigue, revenge – this version never delivers on that inherent excitement. The way the plot evolves is not at all surprising since it's clear from the get go that payback will be achieved. Even Edmond's inner turmoil between the man he was and the man he's become lacks interest, since after watching him suffer we want Pearce's character to pay. I certainly couldn't blame him for wanting revenge, so why should he feel guilty? What's the point if Fernand gets to live? Yes, he loses everything dear to him, mainly his wealth and status, but is that really enough?


"Now you're thinking, just now "Why me, O God?". The answer is, God has nothing to do with it. In fact, God is never in France this time of year."

Thankfully, no. The final mano e mano battle is quite entertaining, it's just too bad one has to watch the first two hours to reach it. This film would have been much, much better if it was about 20 minutes shorter. It's supposed to be an action drama, yet it drags along at a snails pace, making you feel like you've lost decades of your life along with Caviezel's character by the time it's over. The locations, art direction and acting (with the exception of Pearce) are first rate, which makes the final product even more disappointing. Pearce's performance is laughably large, giving the film some amusing moments though I don't believe that was the intent. This is a film that had a good chance to be, at the very least, entertaining, but misses the mark by meandering instead of thrilling.



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