The film is really a poor man's Indiana Jones, a poor man's Indiana Jones in the present day basically, yet somehow the film is almost two hours long and really quite dull. The whole film consists of the heroes running around African desert whilst being shot at by various people really, there is a silly plot about trying to find a buried American civil war ironclad warship and also a plot about stopping most of the African water supply getting poisoned.
Personally I feel like they have gotten the era's mixed up, McConaughey looks and acts like a kind of dashing cinematic silver screen legend of the 30's-40's yet he is in the present day and accompanied by the rather whiny and annoying Zahn. Both the main leads are always clad in desert colour outfits which all seems to have stemmed from Indiana Jones, there is the all too common vintage car racing through the desert whilst been shot at sequence, Cruz is completely pointless throughout, it tries to be funny but fails and the ending is a rip roaring anti-climax.
To be frank I think this failed because its set in the present day and we already have a character for that and his name is James Bond. These type of adventures seem to work better when period set, 'The Mummy' films and 'The Phantom' are good examples of this type of boys own wilderness set adventures that work in another era.
I still don't get how the CSS Texas was shown at the start of the film in Virgina, US and ends up in the Niger River, Africa, anyone?? Plus on a final note...Dirk Pitt has to be one of the dumbest attempts at a cool heroic name I've come across for some time.
Sahara tries to squeeze in a plethora of plots into one single movie - with a treasure to be found, a mysterious plague to be investigated, a dictator to be overthrown, natives to be rescued... and then it screws up further by giving none of the characters a strong enough motivation to chase any of these missions.
Matthew McConaughey stars as explorer and adventurer Dirk Pitt in this adaptation of the best-selling novel by Clive Cussler. Pitt thinks he may have found both a fortune and the answer to a long-standing mystery when he discovers a rare coin in the waters of a river in West Africa. During the Civil War, an ironclad battleship with a valuable cargo went missing, and Pitt's theory is that the coin places the ship somewhere in the Sahara Desert. Pitt and his goofy sidekick, Al Giordino (Steve Zahn), set out to find it, but along the way they make the acquaintance of Dr. Eva Rojas (PenÚlope Cruz), a scientist and physician who is trying to determine the source of a strange and deadly disease sweeping the nation. As Eva joins Dirk and Al, they begin to wonder if the mysteries they're trying to uncover might be somehow linked.
Basically this is a weaker Indiana Jones movie, with the hero getting out of narrow escapes and searching for treasure while trying to fight evil. The big difference here is that Dirk Pitt is a former Navy Seal, not a scholar like Indy.
It's a rather formulaic action/thriller with very little in the way of surprises. If you think that 'x' will happen, it does. The only thing that surprised me was how good Matthew McConaughey was as an action star, alhtough he is a little too tanned. While he's no Schwarzenegger or even Harrison Ford, he pulled off the role of Dirk Pitt very well. Steve Zahn also provides excellent comic relief.
I don't know if its worthy enough to spawn sequels (although it is a little bit late for that now), but it could be a big hit if they still wanna push through with it, which is obviously what Paramount thought when it bought the rights to Clive Cussler's book (who wrote tons of sequels). Still, its not a bad movie and may be worth your while.