Vengeance is Mine
The Count of Monte Cristo
Review by Ross Anthony

Though the film begins and ends rather middling even a tad hokie, the middle hosts a robust supply of drama, emotion and well-placed, surprisingly jolting, humor.

The picture begins this wonderful Alexandre Dumas tale when a charmingly good, hopelessly gullible young sailor has his life, love and belief stripped of him by the cold cruel steel-edged sword of betrayal. Once this innocent is imprisoned, the film kicks into a new level of depth and compassion. This caterpillar in concrete reemerges years later -- a majestic butterfly with one hell of a bee stinger of vengeance to carefully, strategically point and puncture.

Of course, prodded by some wonderfully resonant and well-portrayed new friends to use his newly acquired talent, riches and perspective for the greater good our protagonist (now known as the Count of Monte Cristo) has spent too many years clawing in the dirt to just let all that anger go.

"If you truly love me, then don't rob me of my hate."

Jim Caviezel makes a magnificent Count - he squarely regally wins our sympathy. He also lights up in one of my past favorites: "Frequency." Richard Harris more swiftly, easily wins our affections with his character's charms, humor, whit and goodness. Guy Pearce is rather acceptable here, but absolutely rocks in "Memento" and "LA Confidential." I kept wanting Tim Roth (the bad guy in Rob Roy) to play that role. The others all perform well enough; however, Luis Guzman's Jacopo will surely earn a spot in your memory long after the viewing.

A meatier deeper beginning and/or ending would have easily tipped this film into the "A" range, as is, it's a very very strong "B+." I loved the middle of this picture.

Notes: Shot on location in Ireland and Malta. Harris says of his character, "he probably would have been a man like Nelson Mandela. I met Mandela once and was very impressed. I asked him, 'Because you were a violent man and now you've become anti-violent, do you think that's because you were incarcerated for so long?' And he said, Yes I think so.'"

  • The Count of Monte Cristo. Copyright © 2002. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Dagmara Dominczyk, Richard Harris, Luis Guzman, James Frain, Michael Wincott, Henry Cavill.
  • Directed by Kevin Reynolds.
  • Screenplay by Jay Wolpert, based on the Alexandre Dumas' classic tale.
  • Produced by Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Jonathan Glickman at Touchstone, Spyglass.

Grade.......................... Strong B+

Copyright © 2002. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:17:04 PDT