Review of 'Sahara'

sahara_film.jpg Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) has spent his career searching for the civil war “ironclad” (a wood ship protected by a layer of metal) “Texas” tracing it inexplicably to sub-Saharan Africa. Eva Rojas (Penélope Cruz) works for the World Health Organization investigating a lethal disease coming out of Mali. Rojas and Pitt are forced together to travel up the Niger River in a speedboat to see whether they can both find what they are looking for - A civil war boat and the source of a mysterious disease. Of course, the warlord controlling the country is not too keen and sends a bunch of troupes to stop them.

Popcorn fodder. Seriously. Pitt does a good job as an action hero and I particularly appreciated his modern sensibilities and the fact that he is not so full of himself as many action heroes are. It is only in the final minutes of the film that we see the typical “man gets girl” ending (believe me, this is not a spoiler). Cruz puts on lacklustre performance, showing emotion once or twice if you are generous in counting. Most of the time she is either being petulant and annoying or running away (like everyone else). There is the requisite mad-man angle played by a delightfully deceitful Lambert Wilson who will be familiar to Matrix fans as the Merovingian (though perhaps here not quite as sneaky).

The plot is, of course, way out there but attempts to be relevant by picking up on recent years' troubles with rebels in Mali. You never really quite know where things are going to go, which is great though it does tick a lot of the normal Hollywood blockbuster boxes: Amusing sidekick (in the form of perpetually wind-swept, out of his depth, Steve Zahn (as Al Giordino), check, bad guy super-modern lair, check, speedboat chase, check, wandering through the dessert, check, meeting bandits along the way, check, evil warlord, check…There is action aplenty with a good number of large set pieces and lots of explosions.

Though a bit confused at time with a somewhat eclectic cast “Sahara” is quite watchable and good fun with more than a slight bit of ex-colonial truth that strikes a bit close to the bone…For myself, having been to many of the areas featured it was great seeing them again!

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2023-02-05

Directed by: Breck Eisner

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Year: 2005

Length: 124 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure