Sahara (2005) - IMDb

Round 8, Pick 4

Genre: Action/Adventure

Paramount Pictures PG-13 for action and violence

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn, and Penelope Cruz

Implausible Fun in the Desert

Sometimes with action/adventure movies, you have to turn off the brain, firmly place the tongue in the cheek, and enjoy the ride. Unless you’re expecting the next groundbreaker since Raiders of the Lost Ark , today’s adventure flick is here simply to excite you apart from too much thinking.

Such a film is found in Sahara , a swashbuckling, treasure-hunting escapade starring buff Matthew McConaughey and goofball Steve Zahn. Both stars set off to Lago, Nigeria in search of (believe it or not) an ironclad battleship that reportedly disappeared from Virginia during a Civil War battle. Along the way, they meet up with a doctor of the World Health Organization (Penelope Cruz), who believes there is a plague developing in Mali.

Unbeknownst to all three, Africa dictator Kazim (Lennie James) has a hidden agenda behind the plague and will do anything to make sure no one gets in the way of his plans. Soon, our exploring heroes have to combine brains and muscle in order to find the source of the disease and possible remnants of a skeleton ship.

I agree, this sounds preposterous, and it is.

Yet, what stays with you isn’t the movie’s plot but the high-speed boat chases, whacky camel rides, Zahn’s sidekick charm, and one heck of an explosive ending (pun very much intended). Just know that Sahara (so loosely based on Clive Cussler’s novel that Clive wanted nothing to do with the project) isn’t afraid of what it is on the surface – an illogical, funny, testosterone-prone trip that will probably keep you enticed if you enjoyed such movies as The Mummy , The Rundown , or Tomb Raider .

Every action/adventure film has at least one exciting chase scene that becomes a favorite. Mine is the concluding truck chase extravaganza in The Road Warrior (1981). It’s survival of the fittest in a post- apocalyptic Australia as Mel Gibson races a monster tanker passed Mohawk-shaven anarchists in man- made vehicles of doom. Director George Miller captures the chase scene perfectly by setting up more than a dozen of cameras in different locations and simply yelling, “Action!” It’s brilliant, primitive filmmaking at its best.

Please feel free to share your favorite chase scenes!

Thank you for reading,

Reely Bernie


  1. Pingback: 2021 Movie Draft: Sahara – Reely Bernie·

  2. Bernie this movie seems like a lot of fun. The first thing I thought of while watching the trailer was Raiders of the Lost Ark…a more goofy version but it looks fun.

    My favorite chase scenes? The 40 minute car chase in the 1974 Gone in Sixty Seconds movie. That alone is worth watching the movie because it filmed on real streets mishaps and all…

    My other favorite would be Buster Keaton’s General…where he is trying to catch the General and when he is chased in the General.

  3. Good cast and mindless adventure. I’m in! Favorite car chase scene is in “Death Proof” where Kim, Abernathy, and Zoe chase Stuntman Mike in a replica of the car Max loves from Gone in Sixty Seconds.

  4. I think I have seen bits and pieces of this. The Mummy (1999) immediately popped into my head, though no car chases…

    Speaking of, car chases from any of The Fast & Furious franchise would do. Then there’s the car chase/battle in Atomic Blonde with the German version of Major Tom Coming Home as mood music.

  5. Max: Thank you for sharing! Love it! I do believe The General laid the foundation for all movie chase scenes to follow, and it continues to be thrilling today. I am ashamed that I have not seen the ORIGINAL Gone in 60 Seconds. Now, I have to with your awesome rec! Bring on the chase!

    • That whole movie is mind-blowing…visually, musically and plot twists. Do I think Theron can actually beat up guys twice her size? No…but…she damn sure makes it plausible on screen. She runs circles around J. Law’s attempt in Red Sparrow (that was a waste of time).

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