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Satisfy your Indiana jones

It’s tempting to look at “Sahara” as just another guilty pleasure, a movie likable enough for viewers to look past its flaws.When I looked harder, the biggest flaw I found was in that line of reasoning itself: “Sahara” certainly looks like a movie that should commit a litany of sins against continuity, character and correctness as it rollicks across Africa. But if viewers can suspend their disbelief enough to buy the basic premises (a stretch) “Sahara” delivers the action and adventure moviegoers might expect while achieving something approaching plausibility.That’s pretty much the long way of saying that if you buy Matthew McConaughey and Steve Zahn as fun-loving, treasure-hunting ex-SEALs, you’ll probably accept Penélope Cruz as a World Health Organization doctor – provided that she’s wearing glasses. Suffice it to say, when Cruz loses said glasses but doesn’t have to squint her way through the desert, it doesn’t upset any sort of delicate balance “Sahara” needs to survive.Lots of movie reviewers have pointed out the Indiana Jones trilogy consisted basically of B-movies with grade-A production values, and “Sahara” is pretty similar, only without all the stuff from your comparative religions class freshman year. A few scenes, such as a fistfight to the death beneath the whirling blades of the bad guy’s aircraft, are direct parallels. But as much as “Sahara” owes to the Jones boys, the movie’s an adaptation of Clive Cussler’s novel of the same title, with McConaughey stepping in as a swashbuckling Dirk Pitt. But the fact that it’s based on a book shouldn’t fool anyone, either – “Sahara” advances across Africa on the strength of McConaughey’s biceps, Cruz’s beauty and Zahn as Pitt’s wisecracking buddy.It’s definitely a stretch to call it realistic, but “Sahara” at least puts its characters in jeopardy in countries that exist on real maps. While McConaughey and Zahn might not pass for former commandos, they fill out the role better than a lot of Hollywood’s pretty boys would. And the fact that a former SEAL advised filmmakers on the combat scenes is probably what makes them look more believable than the action sequences in some glossy Hollywood shoot-em-up.And while Cruz can’t quite make the big jump from Calvin Klein ads to the World Health Organization, she comes off as a lot tougher and smarter than most action-movie warrior women. And “Sahara” doesn’t make her character look too hard to find a good spot in the mix.Without the spectacles, she finds the important message: Squint too hard, and you’ll miss a pretty enjoyable big picture.


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