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The Count of Monte Cristo

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

Starring: James Caviezel, Guy Pearce
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 131 Minutes
Release Date: January 2002
Genres: Action, Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: Dagmara Dominczyk, Luis Guzman, Richard Harris

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

So where are the swashbucklers of yesteryear? At the cineplex - as Alexandre Dumas' classic tale of retribution and redemption resurfaces once again. This time, an idealistic young French sailor, Edmond Dantes (Jim Caviezel), leads a mercy mission to Elba to get medical help for his ship's dying captain. Elba's the island where Napoleon Bonaparte (Alex Norton) has been banished, and Dantes naively accepts a message from Bonaparte to deliver back to France. Once home, Dantes resumes his romance with the beautiful Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk), which infuriates his childhood friend-turned-rival Fernand de Mondego (Guy Pearce), who accuses him of treason. Dantes then spends hellish 13 years in Chateau d'If prison, enduring annual beatings by a sadistic warden (Michael Wincott). During this incarceration, he's befriended by Abbe Faria (Richard Harris), a feisty soldier-turned-cleric, who teaches him to fence and tells him where to find a hidden treasure. Finally, Dantes escapes and, after joining a band of pirates and earning the loyalty of a cut-throat companion Jacopo (Luis Guzman), he returns home via balloon, disguised as the Count of Monte Cristo. Ah, revenge is sweet! Writer Jay Wolpert and director Kevin Reynolds ("Waterworld") efficiently propel the adventure, and the casting is right on-target. With his dark hair and piercing blue eyes, Jim Caviezel ("Frequency") is a dashing, debonair hero, while Guy Pearce ("Memento") is a sneering, vicious cad. On the other hand, while it's understandable that Richard Harris's mentor is tinged with Prof. Dumbledore from "Harry Potter," Luis Guzman's contemporary Bronx accent is quite inexplicable. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Count of Monte Cristo" is a rousing, old-style, escapist 7 - and the swordplay is smashing!

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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