Time: 131 mins.
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?