Sahara Breck Eisner

Listen 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 seems to be the main thrust of Sahara, a tedious modern-dress Indiana Jones retread with astoundingly condescending geopolitics. Matthew McConaughey is 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 film 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!" This would make for an evening of rib-tickling camp if not for the constant incursions of the dopey "natives": they're either grim and selfish villains or stereotypical children running adoringly after whitey's arrivals. 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. There are surprisingly good extras though: director Breck Eisner's first commentary is all business, and even the joke-y second track with him and McConaughey is loaded with detail. A solid on-set featurette, a lengthy and unusually serious documentary on technical/design matters, a cast and crew wrap film, and four deleted scenes with optional Eisner and McConaughey commentary round things out. (Paramount)