|"The Count of Monte Cristo" Movie Review
The time appears to be right for a new take on Alexandre Dumas' timeless classic, "The Count of Monte Cristo." This version casts Jim Caviezel ("Angel Eyes") as the man out for revenge, and Guy Pearce ("Memento") as the deserving target of that revenge. "Rock Star's" Dagmara Dominczyk co-stars as the object of both men's affections - and the reason behind the obsessive need for revenge.
Director Kevin Reynolds ("Waterworld" and "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves") sticks close to the literary work as he unfolds a beautifully crafted account of Edmund Dantes' rise from a lowly sailor to the famed Count. Edmund is hopelessly devoted to Mercedes, but lacking money, he feels he's not in a position to marry her until he's able to afford a ring. She loves him no matter what his financial status (it's not about the money). In love, Mercedes is blissfully unaware of Edmund's best friend's lust for her. Jealousy rears its ugly head as Fernand, out of his mind with desire for Mercedes, schemes to get Mercedes no matter what the cost.
Imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, torn away from his family and his fiancée, Edmund spends 15 years locked away in a damp prison, most of which is spent learning fighting and survival skills from a wizened old criminal, played with gentle humor by Richard Harris. Meanwhile, Fernand and Mercedes marry (that always happens in romance novels) despite the fact that she never got over her love of Edmund. The plot thickens with Edmund's escape from prison and his secret reemergence as the dashing, and wealthy, Count of Monte Cristo.
The fight scenes are amazingly fluid, swordplay seeming to come naturally to both Guy Pearce and Jim Caviezel. The film also features a humorous performance from the talented Luis Guzman as a man devoted to the Count/Edmund. While some of the lines used in both the prison scenes and the "buddy" scenes between Guzman and Caviezel are a bit unbelievable (there occasionally seems to be a tad too much of the new millennium in the way they speak), most of the scenes are true to the times and the scenery and sets are authentically breathtaking.
Ignore the fact that the posters for the film bare a greater resemblance to Antonio Banderas in "The Mask of Zorro" than Jim Caviezel and allow Caviezel the opportunity to impress you as the romantic leading man/action hero. He emerges as a first-class romantic leading man, and his action sequences are equally thrilling. Guy Pearce makes a wickedly good villain, the kind you actually want to hiss at while he's on the screen. Dagmara Dominczyk is perfection as the love interest, growing from an innocent young woman into a resigned wife and mother.
"The Count of Monte Cristo" is splendidly enjoyable, mixing love, lust, revenge, and action sequences into a surprisingly entertaining film.
Overall Grade: B