Reviewed by: Jonanthan Rodriguez
deserts in the Bible
|Featuring:||Matthew McConaughey, Penélope Cruz, Steve Zahn, William H. Macy, Delroy Lindo|
|Producer:||Howard Baldwin, Karen Baldwin, Mace Neufeld, Stephanie Austin, Philip Anschutz|
Dirk Pitt. Adventure has a new name.
It’s getting to be that time of the year again when multiplexes welcome the first wave in the coming onslaught of mindless action/adventure films. Depending on how one feels about that, it could be a good thing. Now, I think everyone can agree that we can’t be expected to suffer through the dreary dramas of winter without looking forward to the films of spring and summer that require we leave logic, and the working parts of our brains, at the door. This is not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, because we all have a list of absurd movies we love; a list that if we ever shared with others would probably get us made fun of.
With that said, in sails “Sahara”, the first (at least that I have seen) of what will be many implausible, yet undeniably fun summer films.
I should probably start out by mentioning that I have never actually read any of Clive Cussler’s novels, but, if they are anything like the Matthew McConaughey version of “Sahara,” then they are funny, exciting, full of pulse-racing action scenes and likeable characters, but I would hope they are not quite as contrived.
McConaughey plays Dirk Pitt, master explorer who travels around the world searching for lost historical artifacts with the help of his plucky sidekick Al, played by the generally likeable Steve Zahn. The two have their sights set on a Civil War ironclad ship, that supposedly set sail to Africa after the war, and disappeared somewhere in the Sahara. It is in Africa where they meet Eva, played by Penélope Cruz, a doctor for the World Health Organization who is trying to determine the source of a strange, but deadly, water-based outbreak affecting Africans who had recently visited the country of Mali. The outbreak, if left unattended, could lead to the obliteration of all marine life. The humans who are affected by the plague are dying from a sickness that causes them to get large blisters and open boils, and their glazed-over eyes look like something from an “X-Files” episode.
So, why can’t they just go to Mali and find the problem? The country is experiencing a civil war of its own, and its dictator appears to be in cahoots with a shady European businessman who may or may not have something to do with the outbreak. (We who have watched movies before know he is the bad guy from the beginning, because he dresses nicer than everyone else and has an accent.) So, the trio of Dirk, Al, and Eva set off to discover the source of the outbreak, and hopefully, the historic ship.
The language and sexual content of the film is surprisingly mild. There is little language, with the worst being a few d- and a-words, here and there. I could be wrong, but I don’t remember hearing any uses of the Lord’s name in vain, which was a pleasant surprise. There is no sexual content in the film, although we see a bit of cleavage during one scene.
But, what had me a little concerned, if not somewhat disturbed, was the violent content of the film. Now, I am not talking about the relentless chase scenes, or the scenes where the heroes are getting shot at, because these are scenes found in every summer action film. The only problem I had with the content of “Sahara” was that in the midst of all the mindless action, there are a few very serious scenes that show people being murdered in cold blood.
It is there that “Sahara” lost me. I was enjoying myself, because I have no problem excusing absurdities and improbable scenes in summer action films. because that’s just the way they are. Most of those films play entirely as almost satires or spoofs of themselves. They don’t ask us take them seriously, so we don’t. But when one of the characters is shot while on his knees with his hands tied, “Sahara” changes it’s tone, as if asking to be taken more seriously. It is an uncomfortable scene that felt out of place in the otherwise lightweight movie, and changed the way I viewed the rest of the film. I doubt many people will think twice about the scene when they see it, but for some reason it impacted me more than a scene like that normally would.
If you can look beyond that, I suppose “Sahara” is a refreshingly clean Hollywood effort. Children and teenagers will enjoy it, and their parents won’t really have to worry much about them being exposed to filth. But, for me at least, “Sahara” disappointed in the end. The serious scene caused me to view the implausible ones a bit more harshly than I normally would. There are plenty of conveniences in the plot, not to mention some holes you could fit an old ironclad ship through, and in the end it didn’t quite work for me. If only they had left out that shooting…
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Mild / Sex/nudity: Minor