Sea of Sand
Before he went treasuring hunting with Kate Hudson in "Fool's Gold" Matthew McConaughey tried is hand treasure hunting in "Sahara" and out of the two "Sahara" is the superior. Having said that "Sahara" is by no means a good example of the treasure hunting genre in fact it is only a little bit better that "Fool's Gold" and certainly is as daft and outrageous as well as being over long. As with many treasure hunting movies "Sahara" basically follows a familiar formula of a treasure hunter and friends going on a wild goose chase in search of a legendary lost ship and finding themselves battling bad guys. There is more to it than that as on top of the hunt for the boat there is also an evil corporation behind an outbreak of poisoning but it is all very familiar and very daft.
Former US Navy Seal Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey - How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) and his buddy Al Giordino (Steve Zahn - Daddy Day Care) are on the search of a legendary Civil War ship which decades a go some how made it to West Africa never to be seen again. It is during their hunt for the lost ship that they meet the attractive Dr. Eva Rojas (PenÃ©lope Cruz - Noel) who believes that a plague is about to strike and unless the root of the plague is discovered it could go world wide. But when it becomes apparent that Rojas's snooping is putting her life at risk Pitt and Giordino find themselves getting involved especially as the lost boat may be in someway connected.
One of the daftest things about "Sahara" is that despite being full of action and comedy, like you would expect from any treasure hunt movie, it is very forgettable. Part of the issue is that it has too much going on and whilst you expect it all to be convoluted it becomes too convoluted. We have basically two storylines going on with Dirk Pitt trying to find a legendary Civil war boat which is reportedly to have ended up in the Sahara desert and then there is a doctor who is trying to get to the bottom of what us causing a plague, a plague which could threaten the entire world. Of course the two interlink as we watch Pitt and Rojas come together to take on the evil corporation behind dumping of waste which is causing the plague and of course coming across the lost boat. It is all very familiar with nothing which would be out of place in any treasure hunt movie.
And with it being a very traditional treasure hunt movie it is full of action and comedy. Now to be honest the comedy is good because not once does it take itself seriously often using the humour to poke fun at itself especially when it becomes over the top. And the action is just as good with some brilliant adrenalin fuelled scenes which may be outrageous but at least they are exciting.
But the trouble with "Sahara" is that it is too outrageous and too contrived. To put it simply it starts of being quite daft but the longer it goes on the more outrageously stupid it all becomes especially when it gets to the final big action scenes. I know you're not supposed to take this sort of movie seriously but there is being daft and entertaining and then there is being daft and cheesy and unfortunately "Sahara" becomes daft and cheesy. In fact the word preposterous comes to mind as things spiral out of control and if once director Breck Eisner had reigned things in a bit during the final third "Sahara" could have ended up being better than just entertainingly average.
The irony of "Sahara" is that whilst you have Matthew McConaughey playing are laid back treasure hunting hero Dirk Pitt and PenÃ©lope Cruz is sexy as doctor Eva Rojas, both doing a decent job of playing both it is Steve Zahn as comedy side kick Al Giordino who steals the movie. Zahn is just brilliant when it comes to the comedy, making us laugh without forcing the humour and usually using one of his brilliant comedy expressions to make us laugh. Zahn is not the only one as whilst William H. Macy is for the most playing it straight as Admiral Jim Sandecker he still manages to make us smile as he tries to deal with Dirk's wayward heroics. But the trouble is that all these characters are just that characters and we don't get to know them and that is part of the reason why "Sahara" is forgettable because we never really get to know them or get behind them.
What this all boils down to is that "Sahara" whilst entertaining is also forgettable. It has plenty which is wrong with it from becoming seriously outrageous and having 2 dimensional characters. But then it gets the occasional thing right such and some stunning action and the fact it doesn't ever take it self seriously even poking fun at itself for being ultimately daft.