Count of Monte Cristo [2002]

Revenge rarely gets sweeter than it does in The Count of Monte Cristo, a rousing, impeccably crafted adaptation of Alexandre Dumas père's literary classic. Filmed countless times before, the story is revitalized by director Kevin Reynolds (rallying after Waterworld) and screenwriter Jay Wolpert, who wisely avoid the action-movie anachronisms that plagued 2001's dubious Dumas-inspired The Musketeer. Leading a superior cast, Jim Caviezel (Frequency) expresses a delicate balance of obsession and nobility as Dantes, the wrongly accused Frenchman who endures 13 years of prison and torment, then uses a hidden treasure to finance elaborate vengeance on those who wronged him. Memento's Guy Pearce is equally effective as Dantes's betraying nemesis, and Richard Harris tops his Harry Potter wizardry with a humorous turn as Dantes's fellow prisoner and mentor. Filmed on stunning locations in Ireland and Malta, The Count of Monte Cristo easily matches Rob Roy for intelligent swashbuckling entertainment. --Jeff Shannon

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