Last night, I went out with the DMTC theater crowd and we saw the new action-adventure movie "Sahara," with Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn, and Penélope Cruz. The movie was fun and fast-paced, with an interesting NW Africa setting that has rarely been exploited before in cinema. The picture's rapid-fire pace resembled that of the Indiana Jones movies (e.g., "Raiders of the Lost Ark.") Most everyone in our group thought it was an excellent picture.
Nevertheless, I had issues with "Sahara." I have the same issues with the Indiana Jones movies too. For an action-adventure movie to work for me, even if the premise is a bit far-fetched, it has to be somewhat plausible and operate in the same universe I live in. The early James Bond flicks were grounded in reality, and I liked them a lot. The later James Bond flicks departed too far from reality to be pleasing, and the Indiana Jones movies were so far outside reality as to be utterly uninteresting.
"Sahara" has the following problems, from my point-of-view:
- A proposed journey of 72 hours, to go against the flow of the Niger River, in a motorboat, from Lagos, Nigeria to Goa, Mali, and back again? 800-or-so miles as the crow flies, and probably more than a thousand on the winding river? Yeah, right!
- Ironclads crossing the Atlantic and going up the Niger River 140 years ago, when they had trouble managing to just get across the James River? Yeah, right!
- Just a short drive to the Algerian border, through Mali? Through one of the world's most desolate wastelands? Yeah, right!
- A high-tech toxic waste dump? In Mali? Yeah, right!
- A limited toxic waste spill, in Mali, threatening the whole world? Through eutrophication? Yeah, right!
- No one noticing all that Confederate gold for so many years? Yeah, right!
You get the idea. Call me a pill. Maybe I'm just too old for the modern era (meaning since about 1980, when 'Raiders...' came out.)
But it was a 'fun' film! At least talented Penélope Cruz will get a sure-fire hit out of it (fortunately her lack of chemistry with Matthew McConaughey didn't affect the movie much).