Half-baked desert adventure

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 July, 2005, 12:00am

It may lack the magical qualities of The Mummy movies and Indiana Jones' adventurous spirit, but Sahara is a great all-out comedy action film - if you put your common sense on hold.

Directed by Breck Eisner, Sahara follows explorer Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) and his partner Al Giordino (Steve Zahn) as they search for a US civil war battleship containing secret cargo.

Their search takes them to West Africa where they are joined by Eva Rojas (Penelope Cruz), a doctor investigating the spread of a mysterious disease.

Adopted from Clive Cussler's adventure novel, Sahara is a classic treasure hunt adventure loaded with comedy-filled action.

McConaughey takes on the role of a handsome, strong, intelligent and gentlemanly hero while sidekick Zahn provides wisecracks and silly jokes.

Despite being corny, the movie is watchable, thanks to the wonderful comedic chemistry between McConaughey and Zahn.

However, Cruz is unconvincing as a saint-like doctor who cares only for the welfare of others.

Fortunately, she has a limited amount of dialogue and action scenes and her sexy appearance has a tough side that suits her role.

Eisner proves to be an adept director in his debut film. The exotic images of the Sahara desert - which were actually filmed in Morocco - are hauntingly beautiful.

It's a shame that the filmmakers spent more time showing mediocre action sequences than making full use of the stunning scenery.

Sahara exploits the public's fears of a global catastrophe and also reflects society's growing resentment of powerful governments.

There are some hilarious scenes which poke fun at government red tape, but sadly these moments are few.

Unless you're a big fan of McConaughey or Cruz, don't bother.