The Count of Monte Cristo

Director:Kevin Reynolds
Writer:Jay Wolpert
Touchstone Pictures; PG-13; 110 minutes
Cast:Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Richard Harris

In Alexandre Dumas' vision of 18th century France, villains were villains, swordfights were common, and swashbuckling was a way of life. His action-packed novel The Count of Monte Cristo returns to the big screen in yet another retelling. The original was essentially a pulp thriller, and Hollywood's detailed adaptation strives for a tone of long-gone romance as Edmond (Jim Caviezel) seeks revenge on dastardly Fernand (Guy Pearce). Piracy, hidden treasure, and plenty of secret paths are thrown in for good measure.

The production is excellent, from lively swordfights to a plethora of exquisitely rendered locations. Pearce (Memento, L.A. Confidential ) plays his character's nastiness to the hilt, so the essential battle between him and Caviezel's good guy builds well. Dumas wasn't trying to write a literary classic, no more than director Kevin Reynolds is trying to make an arthouse hit. With admirable gusto and a smattering of camp, The Count of Monte Cristo indulges in the romance of adventure.