Sahara

"OK"

Sahara Review


If "Sahara" weren't quite so dumb, it might have been a lot offun.

A tongue-in-cheek action-adventure movie loosely basedon Clive Cussler's best-selling novel, this wild ride stars Matthew McConaugheyas maritime treasure-hunter Dirk Pitt, who follows rumors about a missingCivil War ironclad halfway around the world to the North African desert.

But on his way he becomes sidetracked by a higher senseof purpose when a willful, beautiful World Health Organization doctor (PenelopeCruz) enlists his help to sneak into a war-torn country, against orders,to track the industrial-waste source of an illness spreading through localvillages.

The picture's often over-the-top action sequences havean excess of boys-with-toys spirit. Especially fun are a guns-a-blazin'chase between a speedboat and paramilitary gunboat down a picturesque desertriver, and a scene in which McConaughey and his requisite wisecrackingcool-dork sidekick Steve Zahn (who has practically cornered the marketon such roles) fashion decades-old biplane wreckage into a land-sailingcatamaran after escaping from bad guys in a remote bank of sand dunes.

The circumstances of these episodes are often ludicrous,ignoring even the most basic kind of common sense -- which is OK in smalldoses when a movie's goal is just good dumb fun. But as they add up, themovie's meager justifications for suspension of disbelief are overrun byexponential absurdity, culminating in an all-too-easy finale that mightbe amusing and exciting if it weren't so inescapably preposterous.

Under even modest scrutiny, the plot makes even less sensethan the action. It's a lot of balderdash about a warlord in cahoots withan evil metrosexual French businessman (Lambert Wilson comes off as a discountJames Bond villain), both of whom employ armies of really, really stupidhenchmen.

The movie's failures are due in large part to an assembly-linescreenplay, heavily influenced by "Indiana Jones" movies and script-doctored withinan inch of its life. But also to blame is the video-game-like directionof Breck Eisner (son of embattled Disney honcho Michael Eisner), whoseinexperience shows in the way "Sahara" feels like a series ofhigh-gloss but low-budget action set pieces loosely tethered together bya thin story, but trying hard to gallop off in random directions.

To some degree McConaughey comes to the rescue, holdingtogether some loose ends with a performance that depicts Dirk as scruffy,dashing, cheeky and all-American, yet so completely at home in exotic foreigncultures that he's easily embraced by locals weary of Westerners. He'salso entirely credible as the kind of guy who would, without a second thought,put his life's ambition on hold to help save people from disease. (Of course,the climax conveniently herds all plot points back into the same corral.)

Zahn provides plenty of humor and Cruz seems more naturaland relaxed here than in any of her previous Hollywood films (she's almostalways superb in Spanish movies). So between the enjoyable performancesand the stand-alone fun of the don't-take-this-seriously action scenes,"Sahara" would almost qualify as a popcorn-munching early-summerguilty pleasure. Too bad it's such a transparent and superficial attemptto build a franchise from spit-polished used parts.



Sahara

Facts and Figures

Run time: 124 mins

In Theaters: Friday 8th April 2005

Box Office USA: $68.6M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 39%
Fresh: 67 Rotten: 105

IMDB: 6.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.