Published Apr 01, 2005Listen up, Africa, you may be very poor, but you are childish and silly as well, and in desperate need of saving by a Southern good-ole-boy with six-pack abs. That, at least, seems to be the main thrust of Sahara, a tedious modern-dress Indiana Jones retread with some astoundingly condescending geopolitics.
The abs in question belong to Matthew McConaughey, an ex-navy pro adventurer constantly on the lookout for treasure. The proverbial more than he bargains for comes when he goes looking for a lost armoured ship in, yes, the Sahara desert. Backed by fellow adventurer Cheaplaffs Johnson, I mean Steve Zahn, he falls in with girly WHO doctor Penelope Cruz and stumbles upon a warlord's conspiracy to keep his dying people from health.
The absurd combination of National Treasure and Black Hawk Down fails to convince on any level: our heroes are never far from food and water when stranded in the desert, Cruz walks into possible plague zones with only a pair of rubber gloves and Zahn delivers the shocking line, "I'll blow things up! You get the girl!" It would make for an evening of rib-tickling camp were it not for the constant incursion of the dopey "natives": they're either grim and selfish villains or stereotypical children running adoringly after whitey's arrivals, with Delroy Lindo and Glynn Turman trotted out to prove "Hey! Some of our best friends are black!"
True, the production is ramshackle and incoherent enough to challenge the most diligent viewer, and thus distract him/her from the antiquated attitudes, but it's a photo finish between lazy aesthetics and lazy politics in a race where everyone loses, including the audience. (Paramount)