The Count of Monte Cristo
I don't usually befriend assholes. This is because when I meet people, I know within a 99% degree of certainty whether they're assholes. This is because assholes often behave oddly or say things like, "Hey, I'd like to screw your girlfriend." I can usually identify an asshole, after talking with him, in less than 15 seconds.
Apparently, Edmund Dantes (Jim Caviezel) doesn't know an asshole from his own asshole, because he seems to think that Fernand Mondego (Guy Pearce) is his best friend. Before betraying that friendship, Fernand clearly tries to get Edmund's fiancé, Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk), into bed. Apparently, this is just something friends do in France. One would think that Edmund and Mercedes would have a conversation along the lines of:
Mercedes: "Did you know your friend Fernand has been trying to get in my pants?"
Edmund: "No. Really?"
Edmund: "Friends don't do that, do they?"
Mercedes: "No, they don't."
Edmund: "I don't think I'll be friends with him anymore."
And that should be the end of the story. Instead, the slow-witted Edmund and Mercedes don't catch on that Fernand is a scheming upper-class scumbag (sort of like Alexandre Dumas's version of Kenneth Lay) who deserves to have a sharp sword jammed up his rear end. Next thing Edmund knows, Fernand and his cohort, Villefort (James Frain), have Edmund thrown in prison.
Thus begins Edmund's slow journey towards clarity. Thirteen years, a treasure map, an education, and several spoken languages later, he's locating the treasure of Monte Cristo and plotting, along with his new Hispanic friend (Luis Guzman), to get his revenge on Fernand and Villefort. In the intervening years, Mercedes has married Fernand and had a son because back then, a gorgeous, free-spirited model's only hope for happiness lay in evil, upper-class wankers. Why Edmund goes back for this woman is anybody's guess. And why he doesn't reflect on his life is also confusing. Before he went into prison, he didn't have any Hispanic friends. After prison, he has a Hispanic friend. He should recognize how much better his life is and move on.
The issue of revenge has a lot to do with Edmund rediscovering his faith in God. While in prison, Faria (Richard Harris) tries to convince him to not let his hatred determine his actions. Edmund also has the equivalent of "Jesus Saves" scrawled on his prison wall, which reminds him what a smarmy bastard God must be. Director Kevin ("Waterworld") Reynolds wraps this up very nicely without impugning the concept of God by allowing Fernand and Villefort to determine their own ends. This is nice for God. Unfortunately, I had to see both "Waterworld" and Reynolds's other movie, "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," so I already know there is no God -- but nice try, Kev.
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