The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
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Review Date: January 03, 2002
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Writer: Jay Wolpert
Producers: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman
Jim Caviezel
Guy Pearce
Richard Harris
This movie's tagline could read: The man who became a prisoner after being backstabbed by his friend. The prisoner who became a rich guy after he found a kickass treasure in the sea. The rich guy who defied all odds and returned to his homeland to exact revenge upon those who falsely imprisoned him in the first place. That's right, it's the Gladiat-oops, I mean...the Count of Monte Cristo!!
One of the most popular tales of love, betrayal and revenge, this flick is ideal for anyone who happens to be in a vengeful type of mood or pissed at their ex- because he/she dicked around behind their back or for anyone who never forgot about that schmuck who made fun of them in high school. In fact, it's pretty much the most extreme example of one's man incredible drive to avenge the wrongs done onto him. He gets backstabbed and suffers. Then, he suffers some more and then he suffers a little extra after that, until he finally frees himself from the chains of pain, plans his revenge and let me tell you...it's a beautiful thing to see! Granted, I'm not one to advocate this type of retribution in my own life (the whole "eye for an eye" thing never appealed to me-we all end up blind, dammit!), but this is a movie and I suppose that to a certain extent, it allows for you to live vicariously through this man, and boy...was it ever sweet! And speaking of the man, Jimmy Caviezel...let me count the ways. Both Caviezel and Pearce come through in their respective roles, with the former racking up major points for the greater arc in character. The truth is that both of these guys are at the top of their game and have respectively been known to choose projects based on their quality, rather than the size of their checks, and in this case, they continue to bolster their reputations as superior actors. And if I mention the name Luis Guzman...would that delight you even further? (and how about Michael Wincott?) Of course it would! We all love Luis and the man is a charm in this film. He doesn't have a very big role, but for what he does have, he makes the most of it. You can call him "comic relief" if you like, but in a film with such dark themes as jealousy and revenge, a scene in which Guzman tries to convince the Count to give him the order to whack out some Parisians before they take off into the sunset, is absolutely priceless.

By the way, any movie based on such a weighty novel would be assumed to cover at least three full hours, but props go out to director Kevin Reynolds, for being able to lasso this baby in under two bucks, and without the abundance of plot holes, lengthy dialogues or the slow-paced years of passing. In fact, even though this story is actually broken into three separate parts (first, everybody's friends...then, one gets backstabbed and goes to prison for (what seems like) ever...and then, the ultimate comeback), the whole ties together really well, and you can't help but root for the man in the goatee as he follows through with his vengeful tactics. Sure, the film did have its small flaws: it's kind of a stretch that despite changing very little physically after 15 years, most of his former friends can't recognize him anymore, the smoke machines seemed to be working overtime in the interior scenes for some reason, Guy Pearce's character was a consistently uncompromising a-hole (read: one-dimensional?) and one could argue that Reynolds doesn't really bring all that much "spunk" to the proceedings (will the movie stick with you much after your viewing...not really). But, I quite enjoyed the film while I was there, appreciated the actors' hard work, was absorbed by its storyline, impressed with its ending and left with a smile on my face and less stress on my mind and isn't that what good movies are supposed to accomplish? Forget about that crappy MUSKETEER flick from last year and see a swashbuckling movie that actually offers an interesting story, action, drama and...sword fights! All in all, a good time is had by all.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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