Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Sahara Movie Poster Image
Some exciting action, but overall not satisfying.
  • PG-13
  • 2005
  • 120 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 18 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 12 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Dated portrayals of women and minorities.


Comic book-style peril and action violence.


Mild language.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Smoking, social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie has non-stop "action" violence, which means that our intrepid heroes get shot at a lot but never get hit while their own shooting is almost unfailingly on target. Despite the fact that it's based on a book written in the 1990s and 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.

Wondering if Sahara is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byTheresa M. March 11, 2018

love but there IS language!!

Commonsense says no language--in first 20 min, they say, What the Hell, Crap, Dammit, & butt. Commonsense, C'mon! Get the review right, pls. We re... Continue reading
Adult Written byronja January 7, 2012

very good movie the review is wrong

This is a very good, entertaining film. There is a violence, especially at the beginning, there are some sad parts but overal it is a great adventure movie with... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bysolosing June 29, 2009

Perfect for 14 up but im not so sure about 10-12. def. not 10 or younger

I thinkk that this should be seen when kids understand that shooting and blowing people up is not a good thing. this movie has a lot of guns in it but is a very... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old June 23, 2012

Some good action, but predictable. Tame for a PG-13 rating

My Rating PG: for action violence, and some language.

What's the story?

Based on one of Clive Cussler's series of 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 guys get involved in two treasure hunts in which a beautiful woman is hunting a microbe, and a handsome explorer is in search of a long lost ship. The beautiful doctor is Eva Rojas (Penelope Cruz) of the World Health Organization. She is a neurologist seeking the source of a mysterious disease that is killing people quickly. No one takes her seriously except for her dedicated colleague (Glynn Turman) and a mysterious turbaned man who is stalking her. The second treasure hunt is for a Confederate Civil War ship that Dirk thinks made it all the way to Africa as the Confederacy was falling and is now buried in a 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. All of that keeps getting in the way of some terrifically exciting stunts and some spirited action.

This movie would be good, All-American, popcorn fun except that as you try to put your brain to sleep to sit back and enjoy the action, but the careless carnage ruins it. Dirk and Al have no hesitation in blowing away battalions of uniformed troops without any real justification. The African bad guy says that "No one cares about (killing) Africans," but no one making the movie seems to have got the memo about how that was a bad thing. One saintly African-American doctor does not make up for portraying the Africans as evil, ineffective, or, worst of all, expendable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about groundwater contamination issues, and about the Navy SEALs.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate