Sahara Movie Poster Image




Some exciting action, but overall not satisfying.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 120 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Dated portrayals of women and minorities.


Comic book-style peril and action violence.

Not applicable

Mild language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Smoking, social drinking.

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.

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.

Families can talk about...

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

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 8, 2005
DVD/Streaming release date:August 30, 2005
Cast:Matthew McConaughey, Penelope Cruz, Steve Zahn
Director:Breck Eisner
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:120 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:action violence

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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 good moovie
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Great messages
Teen, 14 years old Written bybehemoth April 9, 2008
Adult Written byverona April 9, 2008

Fun for grownups as well as kids

In the vein of Indiana Jones--no it REALLY couldn't have happened -- lots of action (bloodless) and roller coaster fun. I don't get the concern about how Africans are portrayed---I did not feel it was insensitive and I've lived there.