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29 October 2014

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The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Cast: James Caviezel Guy Pearce Dagmara Dominczyk Richard Harris Luiz Guzmán James Frain
Length: 131 minutes
Release: 19th April 2002
pg cert camera
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas' classic story has been filmed several times before, most notably in 1934 with Robert Donat. Kevin Reynolds' remake brings nothing new to the table, but it's still an enjoyable throwback to the swashbucklers of old.
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The story revolves around Edmond Dantes (Caviezel), a dashing young sailor whose dreams of settling down with the lovely Mercedes (Dominczyk) are shattered when he is betrayed by his best friend, Fernand (Pearce), and sentenced to spend the rest of his days in the infamous island prison Chateau d'If.

Thirteen years later, with some help from fellow inmate Faria (Harris), Edmond escapes from this ghastly hellhole, finds some hidden treasure, and reinvents himself as the Count of Monte Cristo.

It's the perfect way to avenge himself on Fernand - who, in the meantime, has married Mercedes - and all those who collaborated in his unjust persecution.

Page-turners like this one never age, and while the tale has its dull stretches - particularly Edmond's spell behind bars - you always want to find out what happens next.

Throw in some glamorous sun-drenched locations and lashings of opulent production design, and you can count on being entertained.

Caviezel, who has so far failed to capitalise on his star-making performance in "The Thin Red Line", makes a rather impassive lead, while Harris is hardly stretched as yet another bearded father figure.

So it's left to the bad guys to steal the show - Michael Wincott's sadistic gaoler, James Frain's scheming magistrate, and, best of all, Pearce's gloriously debauched fop.

"The Count of Monte Cristo
" opens in UK cinemas on Friday 19th April 2002 .

Reviewed by Neil Smith, BBC Films

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