Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

At first sight, we are in Indiana country - that's Jones, you understand. At second sight, it might be Outbreak 2, with Penelope Cruz standing in for Dustin Hoffman.

Sahara is difficult to categorise. It's an adventure yarn, certainly, but what's this other story about a possible plague devastating Africa, followed by the makings of an eco thriller of global proportions?

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Push the plot too hard and it collapses. Best to sit back and do what you do with James Bond. If nothing else, the locations are breathtaking.

Dirk (Matthew McConaughey) and Al (Steve Zahn) are treasure hunters. You can make a living out of this these days - study maps, pinpoint a possible resting place for sunken doubloons, find a rich patron and go diving. Dirk's pet project is an iron ship, last seen at the end of the American Civil War, which somehow crossed the ocean with crates of gold coins and finished up in a North African desert.

When Dirk meets Eva (Cruz), she's being attacked by two black men on a beach. He comes to the rescue and saves her life. He's good at that. He may not have a proper job and has absolutely no respect for danger, but he does the damsel in distress well and doesn't take himself too seriously. In fact, he and Al are a great double act, because Al's up for anything and has this stupid grin on his face.

Eva, on the other hand, doesn't fool around. She's a doc with WHO, investigating a possible plague that makes ebola look like a bad case of the flu. For different reasons, she and the boys end up in Mali, where the resident dictator (Lennie James) tries to kill them. There is method in his madness that you discover later, although it seems frightfully unfriendly at the time.

Despite having to stretch credulity to breaking point, Sahara has the watchability of Spy Kids for grown-ups. The cinematography and stunts are right up there with GoldenEye and the actors are fully switched to the fun zone.

As a bonus, Dirk's sponsor is played by William H Macy, complete with naval beard and piercing eye. The film has a good feel to it, as if everyone's trying their darnedest and enjoying every minute.

Take care. It might be contagious.

Reviewed on: 09 Apr 2005
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An adventure yarn, with extreme treasure hunters and a beautiful doctor on a life saving mission.
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Read more Sahara reviews:

Josh Morrall ***

Director: Breck Eisner

Writer: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, John C Richards, James V Hart, based on the novel by Clive Cussler

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn, Penelope Cruz, Lambert Wilson, William H Macy, Glynn Turman, Delroy Lindo, Lennie James, Clint Dyer, Patrick Malahide

Year: 2005

Runtime: 127 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US/Spain


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