Dirk Pitt (McConaughey) is a marine treasure hunter who has taken it upon himself, along with sidekick Al Giordino (Zahn), to find a mysterious battleship from the American Civil War. When he crosses paths with World Health Organisation doctor Eva Rojas (Cruz) it turns out that the plague she is investigating is linked to Pitt’s quarry, so the gang set off in search of the ship, notoriety and a solution to ecological disaster. Standing in their way are dictator Kazim (Lennie James) and industrialist Yves Massarde (Lambert Wilson).
The standard of the acting is generally high enough for what is needed, with the exception of Penelope Cruz, who never really looks like she belongs in the movie from beginning to end. The McConaughey/Zahn buddy chemistry is fantastic, with the latter providing much-needed comic relief.
The action set pieces are very well executed throughout, with the final half hour running like a Bond movie with a car-chase, helicopter, industrial complex facing imminent destruction, and a fistfight atop a towering structure. None of this is particularly original, but it follows the formula perfectly well without the plot being utterly predictable.
Most of the movie is as unbelievable as you expect from the genre. For example, the trio make a complete racket whilst ‘stealthily’ climbing aboard a train alerting very little suspicion in a guard who must be deafened by the soundtrack. As long as you don’t expect everything to be credible in this kind of movie, which is usually a lot to ask, Sahara is well worth a look.
Unfortunately, little of the plot makes sense. Whether important parts were lost in adapting the story from book to film I don’t know, but there are many points where you are left to work out why something has happened without being given so much as a clue. Again, if you’re after a coherent and logical plotline then Sahara is one to steer clear of.
In summary, the film is neither technically great nor original, but it should please those who just want entertainment through action and explosions rather than a clever (or even coherent) plotline, script and top-notch acting.