I’m not familiar with the Alexandre Dumas novel on which this film is based, so I can’t tell you how accurate this book-to-screen adaptation is exactly. As its own entity, however, The Count of Monte Cristo – starring Jim Caviezel, Richard Harris, and Guy Pearce – is at least somewhat enjoyable.
Honestly, I was confused for the first third or so of the movie. I don’t know if it was a lack of me paying attention or if the film itself was confusing, but, either way, I was confused. I didn’t know exactly who was who, I didn’t know what was going on, and nothing really made any sense until Caviezel’s character was thrown in prison, where we were introduced to Richard Harris. From then on, the movie got moderately better. Harris, who would die within a year of this film’s release in theaters, gives a memorable performance as the man who helps Caviezel to escape. He is fun and whimsical in his old age, but he manages to gather our respect both as an older man and as a former priest. When he escapes, Caviezel saves the life of a man named Jacopo, who becomes his faithful companion. The two of them return to Marseilles, where Caviezel, after finding the treasure that was described to him by Harris’ character, becomes the “Count of Monte Cristo” and plans to exact his revenge on those who betrayed him.
The more I try to type this out, the more confused I get. I understand the plot well enough, I suppose, but nothing seems to flow. Caviezel’s performance isn’t particularly memorable, nor is Guy Pearce’s. The relationships between the characters seem forced and difficult to believe. I’m sure that Dumas’ original novel is excellent, but, looking back on this film, the only enjoyable parts that I can think of involve Richard Harris. While a re-watch may change my mind and clear up some of my confusion, right now I can’t think of anything that would make me want to watch it again. It’s not that it’s a bad film; it’s just boring and nothing special.
Rating: 2 (out of 5)
MPAA: PG-13 – for adventure violence/swordplay and some sensuality