SAHARA

2 Stars - Shallow

What creates a compelling story of treasure-hunters is being convinced that there may just be a treasure like the one they seek.  This was part of the genius of the treasure of The Titanic, the blue diamond heart of the ocean necklace could believably be there beneath the sea.  But to be told that the Confederate government during the final battles of the Civil War had cases of gold coins that were placed in an iron-clad battleship and sailed across the Atlantic to Africa and ended up buried there in the desert sands, suggests that we are watching a comic-book story:  interesting and exciting, but out of the realm of possibility, predictably formulaic.  If you want to know more, read on, but we are about to reveal what little surprise you may experience in viewing this film.

The hero is handsome and daring, and he has no fear as he and his sidekick overcome insurmountable odds with relative easy.  The villain is modern as an evil dictator who has allowed a greedy French corporation to use his desert sands and solar power to dispose of unbelievably lethal chemical waste.  The danger is global, as this chemical waste could destroy all life as it poisons our water; and yet the salvation is simple, by removing a small bag of explosives from an ultra-modern underground factory.

The hero is a former Naval officer with the comic-book name of Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey).  The daring diver for a research vessel that seeks to recover lost artifacts beneath the sea, Dirk is obsessed with finding the Confederate vessel.  His sidekick is the comic but loyal Al Giordino (Steve Zahn). 

Believing that only six gold coins were minted and one was given to the captain of the battleship, Dirk is amazed while diving off the coast of Africa to be able to buy the coin on the black market.  Convinced that he is near the legendary ship, he talks his employer, Admiral Sandecker (William H. Macy) to give him his prized cigar boat to go upriver where the coin was found.

But as all good adventure stores include, he is saddled with a beautiful young doctor who has come to this war-torn country to discover the cause of a plague she believes to have originated here.  Dr. Eva Rojas (Penelope Cruz) and Dirk are smitten with one another.  (We won't say more, but we're sure you get the picture.)

The universal desire we have for finding buried treasure, reveals a hope within all of us that there may be a wonderful good fortune waiting for us.  But as Dirk and Eva discover, it is often a treasure made not of gold but of love, which is to be treasured far more than the buried kind.

 

Discussion:

  1. When Dirk discovers the coin, he has no idea that there is more gold to be found.  Does this make you like him more to realize that he is motivated not by gold but by finding an historical vessel?  Why or why not?
  2. The dictator, General Kazim (Lennie James), is shown to be educated in the west and interested in the artifacts of western culture, such as the dueling pistols the French Industrialist (Lambert Wilson) gives him.  Why do you think the story made him cultured and yet cruel?  Is it more heinous to see an educated tyrant?
  3. Making the villain a French corporation feeds into the current sentiment against both the French people and multinational corporations.  What do you believe this does to us to have our stereotypes reinforced?
  4. When Dirk and Al decide to hide the gold from the United States government and instead give it to the poor people who suffered under the General's tyranny, they lied.  Was their lie and theft justified by their action?  What would you do in such a situation? 
Posted on June 1, 2011 and filed under 2 STARS, SHALLOW.