Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA/United Kingdom/Ireland, 2002. Touchstone Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, World 2000 Entertainment, Epsilon Motion Pictures, Count of Monte Cristo Ltd.. Screenplay by Jay Wolpert, based on the novel Le Comte de Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas pere. Cinematography by Andrew Dunn. Produced by Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman. Music by Ed Shearmur. Production Design by Mark Geraghty. Costume Design by Tom Rand. Film Editing by Stephen Semel, Christopher Womack.
Exciting retelling of the ever popular Alexandre Dumas novel stars Jim Caviezel as the wronged French sea captain who gets thrown into an isolated island prison for fifteen years for a crime he didn’t commit. Best friend Guy Pearce is jealous of our hero for having the love of a beautiful woman (Dagmara Dominczyk) and so betrays him to the authorities with false charges of treason, not realizing the effect it will have on his life, nor on the lives of his co-conspirator James Frain. While in prison, Caviezel is educated in all matters by fellow inmate Richard Harris (in a spirited performance) and given the map to a buried treasure that is the eventual method with which he is able to take out his revenge upon his enemies. Unfortunately, when he does make it back home to Marseilles where all the trouble originally began, he finds out that his lady love married his enemy many years before and bore them a son. Some viewers may be pleased that Dumas’ original bittersweet ending has been replaced by a more upbeat one, but the result of this is that the moral ambiguity of Caviezel’s revenge and the emotional complexity of its outcome (i.e. he wants to kill the father of the boy whose mother is his greatest love) is sacrificed for a more black-and-white Justice Is Necessary approach to the story. Even if this dampens the intellectual stakes, it doesn’t hinder the enjoyment of it, and director Kevin Reynolds paces his way through the entire plot without skipping a beat, ably supported by an excellent cast.