***I was looking at some older reviews I wrote when I was writing things for a couple of papers and came across this humorous review for Sahara. I was writing for the University of Oklahoma school paper as a lark for a semester and after turning this review in, was told by the main editor to change it, to decrease my anti-MM stance. I refused and was "fired". Enjoy the review that got me canned!***
When faced with a film like Sahara I attempt to tell myself after I’ve seen it: just accept this movie for what it is—action fluff and explosions made to satisfy people who aren’t asking for a lot in return.
I can’t do it. I try hard but fail. I’ve seen too many movies to let something as awful as Sahara slide by unpunished. I’ve seen too many “good” bad movies to let Sahara get grouped into that category. Sahara is just “bad” bad with virtually nothing at all that makes it worth your time and money.
Sahara is based on a Clive Cussler novel and stars famed bongo player and annoying Longhorn fan Matthew McConaughey as Cussler’s heroic Dirk Pitt. Even his name is cheesy. And believe me, McConaughey is one actor who can live up to the low bar set by everyone in this movie and Cussler’s fiction as a whole.
McConaughey is beyond a shadow of a doubt the worst actor alive who is getting high profile roles in Hollywood movies. How he gets leading role after leading role vexes me. Is he really that good looking to get these roles? I know his body is “ripped”, but unfortunately, his six-pack of abs are not doing the acting.
McConaughey’s entire career is littered with embarrassing performances in bad movies (go look him up on imdb.com if you disagree and behold the sewer that is his list of films), so to see him saunter and swagger around in Sahara thinking he is channeling Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones is laughable.
I’m personally putting out a plea to every casting director in the land: please spare us the suffering of having to watch McConaughey “act” in another movie. Please. You’ll be doing yourself, the film you are casting, the director of that film, the people who financed it and the audience all a tremendous favor. Please, I’m begging you here.
Let me address the plot to Sahara and you'll need to try and stay with me here. A Civil War era Ironclad supposedly makes its way across the Atlantic Ocean to Africa with a single rare coin minted by the Confederacy in it. Pitt has to get onto this ship. He’s obsessed and coin crazy! Now, anyone who thinks that a Civil War Ironclad could make it to Africa with no sails, very little food on it is taking a big leap of faith I’m not willing to take.
Chasing after mysterious lost Ironclads isn’t enough to keep us entertained, so, let’s add in a plot about a deadly plague spreading across Mali to get Dirk Pitt a love interest (Penelope Cruz). A dose about rebels fighting their own civil war would be nice, “Done!” says the screenwriters. Still not enough of a plot, so let’s put in the possibility for a global catastrophe connected to the dumping of toxic waste. Now we’re getting somewhere. The writers of Sahara (and maybe Cussler, since I haven't read his books I don't know) take the more is more approach when it comes to story and they have the huge plot holes to prove it.
Sahara has a treasure hunt for a ship, deadly plagues, rebel fighters fighting nasty warlords, deadly toxins that could wipe out the planet and keeping it all together is the acting of Matthew McConaughey doing his usual butcher job on the entire concept of talent.
The only good things Sahara has to offer are Steve Zahn and the desert setting. Zahn is a funny guy and Morocco is a stunning, beautiful place with huge, gorgeous vistas of sand. Unfortunately, McConaughey is in scenes with Zahn and is in scenes with Morocco, so even those two things are ruined for me.
Of course, Sahara will make loads of money and people will drool over McConaughey’s dimples or abs and think the story is full of adventure, high quality explosions and good action scenes. Who am I? I’m just a guy who can’t stand underwhelming silly movies and who thinks Matthew McConaughey is horrible. Take a stand. You are either with me or against me.