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The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)



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High adventure is practically a lost art today, when stories -- when they are not supplanted entirely by action set pieces and special effects -- are so often brooding or cynical and screenwriters hide their characters behind veils of irony.

But this (loose) 2002 adaptation of Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo accomplishes something just short of miraculous. It manages to be sincere and idealistic while still packing a dark punch. It manages to have a strong story and still have action, which is all the more gripping because we care about the characters. The cast is excellent, particularly Guy Pearce as a man driven mad with jealousy. "It's complicated," he says to our hero to explain his actions at one point. Indeed it is; few adventure movies are able to delve so deeply into the minds of its characters without sacrificing momentum and adrenaline.

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