Directed by Breck Eisner.
Written by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, John C.
Richards and James V. Hart. Based on the novel by Clive
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn and Penelope Cruz.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 5/15/05
I don't think that it really deserves it,
but "Sahara" is a decent movie. Based on an adventure novel by
author Clive Cussler, it's a throwback to adventure serials that
were best realized by "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and in a market that
spends most of its time remaking horror films or rehashing the
latest swords-and-sorcery epics, "Sahara" is actually kind of
...even IF it is totally ridiculous.
Navy SEALs-turned-adventurers Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) and
his partner Al (Steve Zahn, making a killing on these parts) stumble
upon a plot in Africa that involves an evil dictator named Kazim (Lennie
James, from "Snatch"), polluted waters, a
doctor (Penelope Cruz) from the World Health Organization and a
fabled ironclad ship of gold from the Civil War. Dirk, Al and
the doctor cross the continent in search of answers to many
questions, and in the process spend an inordinate amount of time
getting shot at, being captured, cracking jokes or blowing things
In other words, "Sahara" features exactly
one great asset--it doesn't give a damn what you think, careening
down a path of reckless entertainment and director Breck Eisner is
wise to keep things as simple as possible. You see every bad
guy's death coming, the action scenes are harmless yet entertaining,
McConaughey and Zahn have a good interplay between them and
Cruz--while not as hot in this film as I have become accustomed
to--does the best she can with the script that was handed to her.
"Sahara" continuously reminded me of
Treasure", another film that featured people going through the
motions but the film somehow ended up being pretty good. In
"Sahara", the film seems to run longer than necessary, but I didn't
mind as much because Zahn kept making a funny face here and there
and the film kept me into it.
No...dear God, no, "Sahara" is not great.
You get kind of tired of watching bad guys take out every single
piece of a vehicle that Dirk & Co. is traveling in with machine gun
fire without anyone getting hit. You get tired of wondering
why these former SEALs seem so un...military, be it with bad aim,
poor fighting skills, or the strange ability to cut open metallic
canisters with a bowie knife. At times, the fact that Cruz is
even in this film feels off, as if she was added for the sake of
having a girl parade around in it; I wonder if this character was a
guy in the original text. Even cameos by name artists like
Delroy Lindo are useless; also, does William H. Macy pick projects
with less business sense than any actor in history?
But, "Sahara" is a movie in which you
can turn your brain to auto-pilot and let it ride. It's
forgotten by the next day, but it's a fun time at the movies while
you are sitting there.
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard