Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

Director: Kevin Reynolds

Writers: Alexandre Dumas, Jay Wolpert

Composer: Ed Shearmur

Starring: Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Richard Harris, James Frain, Dagmara Dominczyk, Michael Wincott, Luis Guzman, Christopher Adamson, JB Blanc, Guy Carleton, Alex Norton, Barry Cassin, Henry Cavill, Freddie Jones

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Prepare for adventure. Count on revenge.

Plot: A young man, falsely imprisoned by his jealous "friends," escapes and uses a hidden treasure to exact his revenge.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

When I caught this in the theater a dozen years ago I was taken aback at how good it was.  I was just there to see the awesome Guy Pearce after becoming a huge fan of his with RAVENOUS (1999) and MEMENTO (2000).  Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised that this picture was consistently engaging and entertaining only because of Hollywood's track record of fucking good stories up.  Lately it seems like Jim Caviezel's performances are rather bland but here he's pretty spirited and, especially so in the final half hour, he's on top of his game.  When that happens, he's fun to watch.  The cinematography is great and they picked some gorgeous locations to shoot. The imprisonment section of the film was well handled and it was great watching Richard Harris having some fun.  Great score by Edward Shearmur. I'd forgotten how much fun it was.  Nice themes and orchestration.  I was thinking during the movie how he would be a good candidate for replacing John Williams (you know, 'cause Williams is in his 80s and how much longer is it going to be before he retires?) for future Star Wars or Indiana Jones films. 

The ending and the final duel are great except for two gripes.  Mercedes (Dominczyk) shows up at the last second, helping to save the day, and explains her reason for being there just in time by saying she read her son's note (Albert, played by a young Henry Cavill) that said he was leaving to save the day.  Really?  Why would he write a note telling his mom where he was going, you know, IN A HURRY?  It's dumb and lazy writing.  Either drop the explanation for her being there ore come up with a better one.  How about she was worried and saw Albert leave with his sword?  Whatever.  Anyway, my second beef is when Fernand (Pearce) lays there dying and says to Edmond (Caviezel), "What happened to your mercy?" which is only said in order for Edmond to recall a line from earlier in the picture.  Sometimes this device works and sometimes it doesn't.  I didn't think it did.  It's a minor complaint, I know, but there so much that's right in this picture.  You hate to see someone play a fantastic game only to fuck it up in the final seconds.  Still, it's a great adventure film that's only got me hungry to see the earlier versions...and there are a lot of them.

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