Ebert: Rolling Stone: TV Guide:1/2
minor plot points revealed!
Quick Review: I don't know why it took me 4 weeks to write this review but here it is. I liked Sahara. It was a fun action adventure with a little comedy in the spirit of James Bond and Indiana Jones. It's also the second attempt to bring a Clive Cussler Dirk Pitt novel to the big screen (the first was 1980's Raise the Titanic which I also liked.)
I've been a huge Clive Cussler fan for about 10 years or so. I've read every Dirk Pitt book there is except for the last few. So that's about 20 novels so far.
This film is based on one of the earlier novels and tells the story of a African dictator and a French billionare's nuclear waste disposal plant that is causing a red tide and poisoning the drinking water of Africa, and will soon threaten the entire planet's ecosystem. It's up to Dirk Pitt and pals from NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency) to find the source of the pollution and shut down the operation while at the same time find and determine the fate of a Civil War ironclad that for some reason made the trip to Africa near the end of the war.
If that sounds crazy then I won't even mention that in the book the ironclad was the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln who was kidnapped at the end of the Civil War and ultimately died before he was ransomed and it was a double that actually died in his place at Ford's Theatre.
It took me a while to get used to Matthew McConaughey as Dirk Pitt. I eventually accepted him though. Pitt's sidekick, Al Giordino, was completely miscast and mischaracterized by Steve Zahn. He was funny but way too little and wimpy to play Dirk's partner Al. Rainn Wilson (currently seen as the nerdy guy on NBC's The Office) was OK as Rudi Gunn but the role in the books is a bit older and a lot more intelligent in his nerdiness. William H. Macy was fine as Pitt's boss, Admiral Jim Sandecker, but was not quite as intimidating as the character is in the books. PenÚlope Cruz did a fine job as the sexy doctor without borders and Lambert Wilson was perfect as usual in his new career playing French bad guys in all post 9/11 American movies.
So despite some weird, and just plain wrong casting decisions, I liked this movie. It had good action, didn't develop enough of the plot to make you think it implausible, and was a fun way to spend a couple hours on a rainy Saturday afternoon.