Written by: James V. Hart, Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, John C. Richards
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn, Penélope Cruz, Lambert Wilson, Glynn Turman
Setting a film in Africa where the inhabitants get saved by white people always deserves an eye-roll as it presents this savior methodology simply lacking any sense other than having the opportunity to place these heroes in some foreign and backward land. If it had a good reason or told a strong story, it could have some excuses as something worth watching anyway, which we do not necessarily receive in Sahara. Incredibly generic, unremarkable, and unfortunately forgettable.
Known for uncovering ancient discoveries in the dark depths of the ocean, Dirk (Matthew McConaughey) and Al (Steve Zahn) take a detour in Mali to find a lost Confederate ship from many years ago. There they encounter WHO doctor Eva Rojas (Penélope Cruz) who seeks to investigate a potential plague spreading amongst people of the nation during a civil war in the country fueled by a warlord.
Sahara certainly has plenty going on in throughout its runtime with several world-ending elements running rampant. It has plenty of flashy moments hoping to wow its audiences and it brings together a cast of actors each able to lead their own films through their own inherent charisma. All the makings of something that should theoretically drive some entertainment, but unfortunately everything in this feature feels uninteresting from its plot to its technical elements. All it leaves is a somehow overlong adventure film with not much going for it.
Elements of this feature certainly should capture my interest considering all of the facets mentioned before, but it lacks a punch to keep your eyes on the screen. This feature allows the mind to wander away and forget everything going on simply because whatever getting portrayed on the screen fails to really have a sustained level of engagement. This falls on the screenplay but also the direction making this such a languid affair missing any real zip to it.
Pinning any of this on the actors would be unfair as they mostly brought it as a collective. Even if McConaughey proves he cannot carry an action/adventure film on his shoulders he brings this rogue charisma of someone with plenty of intelligence but also can get the lady. In fact, it follows the major trend found in many films of this ilk where you have the McConaughey type and then the gorgeous love interest in Cruz and the comedic sidekick with no hopes of landing the girl because they lack the looks of the leading man in Steven Zahn. They all fit into their archetypes well but they don’t necessarily receive anything worthwhile to do with these characterizations.
The unfortunate plot of this film centers around a potential plague going through Mali causing death and some weird impact on one’s eyes. This somehow gets intertwined with a warlord who wants to downplay all of this because of reasons and a French businessman involved because of money. It certainly all cogently comes together but none of it really lands as something relatively intriguing, which is truly a shame considering the potential involved and the talent surrounding it.
Of the elements disappointing in this feature one that certainly came to play was the score by Clint Mansell. He certainly came in and decided that he wanted to craft a theme that should be remembered amongst other famous ones accompanying legendary action films. Every time it kicked in during an action sequence, it certainly raised eyebrows, and increased my disappointment it was matched with such subpar visuals. Wholly unfortunate and hopefully something not forgotten amongst everything happening around it not worthy of its quality.
With plenty of potential in all areas of its story, Sahara hugely disappointed financially and did so in regard to its filmmaking quality as well. Lacking any real energy, it very much feels like a film made in the 2000s that never truly connected and got lost in the waves of time. It almost feels like a relic of the era where McConaughey still needed to find where his niche would be in his career and this feature certainly proved action/adventure would not be one of them. Not memorable in any facet other than its score, it’s best to just move on and not think about it anymore.