Sahara (2005, USA/GBR/SPA/GER) C-124m. SCOPE ** D Breck Eisner. Starring Penélope Cruz, Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn, William H. Macy, Delroy Lindo. Adaptation of one of Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt adventure novels is a near-miss: McConaughey plays the adventurer/hero Pitt, who ends up in Mali, Africa, chasing after a famed Civil War battleship. He teams up with WHO doctor Cruz, who's researching a mysterious virus up the river Niger. Never believable, but action-filled enough to make this fairly entertaining. Good production values. Only other Cussler novel filmed before was RAISE THE TITANIC (1980).

© Ron Altman