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It took more than 25 years for another Clive Cussler novel to come to the screen after the financial and critical disaster ofRaise the Titanic. Based on Cussler's oddly landlocked adventure,Saharafinds the author's hero, Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey)--a sort of all-American, high seas variation of James Bond--in Africa looking for a Confederate ironclad ship that impossibly might have ended up there. Soon he and his faithful sidekick Al Giordino (Steve Zahn) are lost in another adventure, discovering a deadly contaminate being tracked by a beautiful doctor (Penelope Cruz). The results are checkered: there's no one outstanding sequence, but the action is enjoyably varied, while the thrills are mild yet not bombastic or gratuitous. The cast are all adept in their roles, yet the only one who sparkles is the scene-stealing Zahn, cast against type; McConaughey, who also produced, knows he might be starting a franchise character and plays it safe. He's never as dangerous as Cussler's hero is on the page (except in his introduction), and in fact, the whole movie plays towards comedy, infused by a soundtrack of 70s FM radio monsters. Cussler fanatics may not like this lighter fare, especially with the archeological portion (a Cussler strong point) not fully embraced, but with a very, very likable cast and colorful settings,Saharais a kindler, gentler action film that has all the elements in place for a better, more memorable franchise if anyone cares to attempt it.--Doug Thomas
Fairly Entertaining but Silly...the Book is Better! Hollywood moguls should be required to actually READ the books they turn into movies. This is not a bad interpretation of "Sahara" but it could be so much BETTER. Dirk Pitt, Clive Cussler's sophisticated, clear-thinking hero..sweaty, grubby and smelly looking with a Texas twang?? Pahleeze!! Loyal, sturdy, reliable Al Giordino reduced to being a goofy sidekick?? No, No, No! And Rudi Gunn, a brilliant scientist and 2nd in command at NUMA as - what? - a college sophomore on spring break?? Just when fans think it couldn't get worse..Admiral James Sandecker, a man of power and authority, turned into a somewhat befuddled mid-management type!! EGADS!! The travesty of it all!! I implore people with intelligence and imagination to read the book. It's WAY better.
Worthwhile Indiana Jones/James Bond Hybrid "Sahara" is an Indiana Jones/James Bond hybrid that should be appreciated by fans of, say, "National Treasure" and "The Mummy" (1999), though it's not quite as good as either of those films.
I was hoping it would be closer to the Clive Cussler novel, but the main elements of the story are there. Matthew McConaughey makes a decent enough Dirk Pitt (Cussler's hero in his book series), although I envisioned him with brouder shoulders and facial features more akin to Charles Bronson. Steve Zahn doesn't physically look like his sidekick Al Giordino (who is supposed to resemble a human bulldozer), but I enjoyed Zahn in the role. Penelope Cruz is also enjoyable as the W.H.O doctor.
I'm a sucker for desert-adventure flicks (e.g. "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Flight of the Phoenix," "The Mummy," "Lawrence of Arabia," etc.) and so really enjoyed the great desert scenery (from locations in Morocco and Spain).
So why only 3 Stars? Mainly because the flick doesn't match the greatness of the novel, but also because of the many implausibilities (e.g. the escape from the pick-up truck, the absurd entrance into the desert facility, the soccer ball incident, just to name a few). In other words, the film often has a highly unrealisitic tone. Still, I enjoyed the fun, upbeat spirit of "Sahara," similar to Indiana Jones or the 70's/early 80's James bond flicks.
If you haven't read the book it would be more like a 3.5 or 4 Star film.I Think We Need to Pull a Panama What better place to open a movie titled Sahara then in an Ironclad off the Virginian shore during the Civil War? Apparently our hero of the movie, Dirk Pitt played by bongo enthusiast Matthew McConaughey, thinks that the same Ironclad sailed the Atlantic and wound up in Africa. And that isn't the most far fetched part of the movie because Penelope Cruz plays a doctor from the World Health Organization. And to remind you that her character is smart, they routinely put her in glasses in hopes of fooling you.
Rounding out the cast is go to goofy sidekick Steve Zahn as Pitt's goofy sidekick that he's known since high school. William H. Macy makes a couple appearances as Pitt's boss. And Dwight Schrute himself steps out of The Office to add some comic relief when Zahn's goofball antics just aren't enough.
The film itself plays like as if Indiana Jones was a present day oceanographer. But instead of those darn dirty Nazi, Dirk has to save his love interest of the moment from African Warlords who is poisoning his enemies and sees the WHO as a threat. But it takes a while for the movie to move along and seems as they deleted some important aspects from the movie, which is based on a popular series of books on Pitt, due to time limits. Some of the action scenes are cool including an odd wind-surfing sequence. But really not cool enough to completely save Sahara.