Watching Kevin Reynolds’s The Count of Monte Cristo, it’s easy to see why Alexander Dumas’s Edmond Dante is the biggest chump in literary history. As played by James Caviezel, Eddie is the illiterate piggy put to roast by his jealous best friend Fernand (a foppish Guy Pearce) and up-and-coming society lawyer Villefort (James Frain). Cristo is all vanilla until Edmond does prison time at the Château d’If. After a gratuitous bout of sour pusses and horse-whippings, Edmond finds his education via Abbe Faria (Richard Harris), an uppity priest looking to break out of prison. As a Cliffs Notes rendition of the Dumas classic, Cristo is as efficient as they come. Reynolds thankfully underplays Edmond’s toils with God and chess pieces and instead focuses on the man’s bubbly revenge plot. Once d’If gives way to buried treasure, Edmond turns Count and lulls his way into enemy hearts by seducing Fernand’s teenage son and throwing a party so gay Joan Collins is liable to weep. His invitations are unreal, his entrances channel Cirque du Soleil. The ending is inevitable (unleash skeletons from closet, defeat evil, snag girl), but ridiculously fun thanks to a deadpan Luiz Guzman as Cristo sidekick Jacopo. Soon to be bottled and sold, Guzman is a fish out of the Soderbergh pond but a potent scene-stealer nonetheless. Cristo is beleaguered and frequently boorish but it knows how to pick its secondary players and never take itself too seriously.
- Kevin Reynolds
- Jay Wolpert
- James Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Dagmara Dominczyk, Luis Guzmán, Richard Harris, Michael Wincott, Albie Woodington, JB Blanc
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