A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sahara (based on the book by Clive Cussler) has lots of action violence, including chases, explosions, peril, weapons (mostly guns), deaths, and a mysterious illness that kills many victims. There's also some swearing ("hell," "damn," etc.), flirting, a kiss, drinking, and smoking. Despite the fact that it includes some positive Black characters and a female doctor, the movie has an unpleasantly retro approach to women and minorities, approaching racism in its casual attitude toward killing Africans. Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn, and Penelope Cruz co-star.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Based on one of Clive Cussler's popular novels, SAHARA follows the adventures of former Navy SEAL Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) and his wisecracking best pal, Al (Steve Zahn). They work for steely-eyed former Admiral Sandecker (William H. Macy), seeking sunken treasure, rescuing beautiful doctors, and expediting regime change. The beautiful doctor is Eva Rojas (Penelope Cruz) of the World Health Organization. She's a neurologist seeking the source of a mysterious disease that's killing people in Mali. No one takes her seriously except for her dedicated colleague (Glynn Turman) and a mysterious man who's stalking her. Pitt is also on the hunt for a Confederate Civil War ship that he thinks made it all the way to Africa as the Confederacy was falling and is now buried in tje desert. In the middle of all this is corrupt French industrialist Yves (Lambert Wilson).
Is it any good?
Sahara feels more like a 1940s serial than a book written in 1991 -- or a movie made in 2005. The characters are too thin, the violence too careless, the suspension of disbelief required too strenuous, the treatment of non-Whites too stereotyped. Which is a shame, because it all get in the way of some terrifically exciting stunts and spirited action.
This movie would be good popcorn fun except that as you try to put your brain to sleep to sit back and enjoy the action, the careless carnage ruins it. Dirk and Al have no hesitation in blowing away battalions of uniformed troops without any real justification. The African villain says that "No one cares about (killing) Africans," but no one making the movie seems to have got the memo about how that's a bad thing. One saintly Black doctor character certainly doesn't make up for portraying other Africans as evil, ineffective, or, worst of all, expendable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Sahara. How does it compare to what you've seen in other action movies?
Did you notice any positive representations in the film? Any negative portrayals and/or stereotypes?
If you've read the book the movie was based on, what changes did you notice? How does it compare to other book adaptations you've seen?
- In theaters: April 8, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: August 30, 2005
- Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Penelope Cruz, Steve Zahn
- Director: Breck Eisner
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: action violence
- Last updated: April 29, 2021
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