Much of Sahara plays out in such a breezy, entertaining manner that you feel guilty for ragging on it, even if it misses its marks repeatedly through the film. Heavily mining the Indiana Jones School of Adventure Filmmaking, first-time director Breck Eisner (yes, the son of the Mouse House power player Michael Eisner) paints a pretty picture of exotic locales and thrilling sequences but never quite gets the magic to work with his cast. The banter between Matthew McConaughey and Steve Zahn doesn't click in a satisfying way, while Penélope Cruz fails to light the romantic spark of the flick no matter how hard she tries. McConaughey has the stuff to make a fine hero, but his Dirk Pitt needs more definition in both his charm and heroics. With four writers attached to the screenplay, it's obvious that the adaptation of Clive Cussler's novel went through more than its share of Hollywood potholes throughout the production. Still, with little digital trickery to sour its traditional aesthetics, Sahara does prove to be a competent cut of entertainment that's safe for the masses to buy into.
by Jeremy Wheeler review