'The Count of Monte Cristo' is a remake of the Alexander Dumas tale by the same name. Dantes, a sailor who is falsely accused of treason by his best friend Fernand, who wants Dantes' girlfriend Mercedes for himself. Dantes is imprisoned on the island prison of Chateau d'If for 13 years, where he plots revenge against those who betrayed him. With the help of another prisoner, he escapes the island and proceeds to transform himself into the wealthy Count of Monte Cristo as part of his plan to exact revenge. Written by
One of the most famous revenge stories, The Count of Monte Cristo is here turned into a dashing, old-fashioned swashbuckler. The plot is riddled with unconvincing coincidences and occurences (as indeed was the book), but other than that this is a well-made, enjoyable film, with some literate dialogue and believable action sequences. It is the fact that the action is believable that makes the film memorable, because in too many 2002 releases the action was so overblown and unrealistic (not to mention physically impossible) that the credibility of such films was destroyed.
Edmond Dantes (Caviezel) is a honest young sailor working out of 19th Century Marseilles. His best friend Fernan (Pearce) secretly craves the hand of Dantes's gorgeous fiancee Mercedes (Dominczyk), so he informs to the authorities that Dantes is a conspirator plotting to aid in Napoleon's escape from Elba. Dantes is sent to a terrible, inescapable island prison, while Fernan takes Mercedes to be his wife. After many years of hardship, Dantes makes an audacious escape and, having acquired a fortune by solving a cryptic treasure map, slowly plots his revenge under the new identity of the "Count of Monte Cristo".
Caviezel was a relative newcomer when he did this film, but he really catches the eye as the innocent man driven to despair by his terrible and unjustified punishment. Pearce is good too, perfecting his arrogant sneer as the deplorable Fernan. The prison scenes are well shot, with the hopelessness and horror of the place captured in considerably believable detail. It's quite surprising that The Count of Monte Cristo was a relative disappointment at the box office, since its dramatic storyline, and the themes of revenge, betrayal and loss, are usually guaranteed crowd-pullers. This film deserves to be seen by more people, and the more people that see it the more its reputation will surely grow.
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