A great adventure film that had so much sand gusting all over the place it got some in my eyes!
Paramount Pictures in association with Bristol Bay Productions and Baldwin Entertainment Group present…
Based from Clive Cussler’s novel of the same name! Sahara brings the adventures of two explorers Dirk and Al to find a lost ship called CSS Texas in which history dictates that a certain Captain of the aforementioned army was trying to block the Union (winner by technical knockout) from gaining the upper hand in their conflict. The year was 1865; it was near the end of the Civil War when this ship housing a treasure of the United States went from massive to missing!
Fast Forward in Mali, Africa (1990)…
Matthew McConaughey stars as retired US Navy Seal Dirk Pitt, the real name can be tolerated but the screen name made me…what’s going on here?!?! Plenty of films to date but none gave other credence for his talent. Always seem to have lacking charisma for the movie public. Though, he had a few that were diligent enough to be praised: “A Time to Kill”, “Reign of Fire”, “The Lincoln Lawyer” and with his breakthrough performance (finally) in “The Dallas Buyers Club”.
In the given screen adaptation, he searches the world for treasures and brings it back to the people restored and for preservation. With the help of his side-kick Steve Zahn (National Security) a fellow ex-Navy Seal named Al Giordino whose knack for being a comedy relief was tolerable in the eyes, even was quite frustrating at times where he can only utter the lines “Hi! How are ya?” in the presence of hoodlums. Still, he brings the goods in making things awkward and funny.
They now embark on a journey that will entwine them with another protagonist with her own mission. Enter, Academy Award Winner Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) a World Health Organization Doctor Eva Rojas whose intentions for the people has caught the attention of its despotic ruler General Zateb Kazim played by Lennie James (Snatch) which gives added levity to the premise of the story.
Academy Award Nominee William H. Macy of NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency) headed by Admiral James Sandecker is in a pivotal role to help both his boys from the rough terrains of the desert and its poisonous rivers. With the help of in-house allies, they provide detailed information at the Embassy to help stop the threat from spreading further, but I think meddling with a warlord and sovereignty in his own country is farfetched from being meddled. Also, the Ambassador there may have specific instructions (or money) left under the table to allow operations to push through!
The action gets underway after the first 40 minutes of the film which focused on the “Ghost Ship” search and the Doctors assumption of an epidemic spreading in the towns’ folk. To make things worse, Lambert Wilson (The Matrix Revolutions) a scrupulous businessman Yves Massarde has a hidden agenda that ties him to the main plot of the story. He always seems to play these types of roles that make him a natural take on villainy.
Breck Eisner (The Crazies) brings his camera to speed as he directs one of the major flops from a book adaptation. Even more, there was a lot of Writers involved for an adapted screenplay! It’s already a story published that you just need to dissect further and analyze on what should be considered taken on the big screen! To add, the film was battered by mixed criticisms and flawed by too many expenses for the production that gave some involved people more to talk about pertaining to legal matters.
On a serious side, the story was dragging, too much exploits of getting shot at, getting caught by the General’s army and the rebellion. Even the background music did a finer job and gave more substance on the sequences of impending danger. At least the Cinematography by Seamus McGarvey (Atonement) was great; capturing the essence of Africa and its people that generates more the ambiance of the fiction.
A typical novel in which a guy who plays a dashing hero and saving the damsel in distress. Matthews’s character was alright but he’s no Indiana Jones that’s for sure! They were going from one place to the other with specific objectives just finding at the end the fruition of their efforts was just not given in full detail. Penelope still needs to work her English; some instances get muddled up when she talks. Supporting cast was decent enough let alone the plot that combines adventure, action and a little romance to top it off.
It was quite an entertaining film with some amusing moments and well choreographed action sequences. Still, it should have been provided a better sense of judgement in terms of financing (well I think I know where the money went…pun intended).