Sahara (2005)

BRECK EISNER

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5

United Kingdom/Spain/Germany/USA, 2005.  Paramount Pictures, Bristol Bay Productions, Baldwin Entertainment Group, J.K. Livin Productions, Desertlands Entertainment, Kanzaman, Babelsberg Film, Moguletta, Sahara Productions.  Screenplay by , , , , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Empty-headed adventure film that seeks to create a new franchise for its star, Matthew McConaughey, but future installments will have to be a lot better than this one. He plays a treasure hunter in the Indiana Jones vein who has been seeking out the wreck of an Ironclad from the Civil War era that supposedly left the coast of Maine and ended up in Africa. While traveling the Niger River in search of his find, McConaughey and quirky assistant  stumble into the middle of an environmental disaster involving a World Health Organization doctor (Penelope Cruz) who is fighting a corrupt businessman () and a ruthless dictator () who are poisoning the water for their own profit. The characters are too cardboard to believable, but not self-consciously monochromatic enough to be appreciated in the retro serial adventure style, while the story has the potential for huge fun but is never fully fleshed out. Mostly, the two male leads act like goofs with toy guns while Cruz stands around and looks pretty. For a movie intent on being silly, escapist fun, it’s neither silly nor fun enough to qualify for the average viewer.

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