Review: Sahara (2005)





Breck Eisner


Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, John C. Richards, James V. Hart (Novel: Clive Cussler)


124 min.


Penlope Cruz, Delroy Lindo, William H. Macy, Matthew McConaughey, Tosin Sanyalo, Glynn Turman, Lambert Wilson, Rainn Wilson, Steve Zahn

MPAA Rating

PG-13 (For action violence)

Buy/Rent Movie



Source Material


A missing Civil War ironclad sends a team of deep sea explorers on the search for missing confederate coins in the adaptation of Clive Cussler’s Sahara.

Matthew McConaughey stars as Dirk Pitt, a modern Indiana Jones whose love of adventure and history brought him and his friend Al Giordino (Steve Zahn) into the business of deep sea excavation. During a recent expedition to the coast of Africa, a doctor asks for Pitt’s organization’s help in sneaking him and his assistant Eva (Penelope Cruz) into Mali where they hope to find the source to a plague that has been seeping across the border into Niger.

The expedition, planned by Pitt and Giordino is to find the rumored location of a sunken ironclad from the United States Civil War that was rumored to bear a crate of confederate coinage that was minted in secret and never released to the public.

Their journey of discovery leads to a rebel camp, a munitions manufacturer and a warlord bent on stopping the team from getting any closer to the plague’s origin.

Sahara has a decent scientific reasoning behind its story but Cussler’s books has been adapted into an action adventure film that looks less like the classic adventure film Raiders of the Lost Ark , as they had planned, and more like the tepid action vehicle Armageddon.

Live action films with multiple writers often suffer from big budget idiocy. Screenwriters come in to doctor a weak script and end up making it overly populist and leaving out the premise that made the project interesting and feasible in the first place. Here, Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer (Thoughtcrimes ), John C. Richards (Nurse Betty ) and James V. Hart (Muppet Treasure Island ) have failed to generate more than a smattering of intrigue in their script and after a promising beginning, the film devolves into a mess of one-liners, cheesy dialogue and overacting.

McConaughey, as usual, leads the poor performances with his grinning intellectualism that feels as false as it does in each of his films. Cruz and Zahn perform a little better but still give nothing even remotely challenging.

Director Breck Eisner (Thoughtcrimes ) does his own damage to the film. Sahara is abysmally paced. It feels like it’s an hour longer than it actually is and two hours is more than long enough for this type of feature. Steven Spielberg ushered in this era of exploration with his Indiana Jones films but few have been able to eclipse Raiders’ impressive breadth.

Sahara is destined to appeal to action junkies but will fail to capture the wide-spread admiration that last year’s National Treasure did. It’s a weak-kneed action flick without a sense of adventure.

Review Written

August 3, 2005

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.