Review Date: April 08, 2005
Director: Breck Eisner
Writer: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, John Richards, James Hart
Producers: Stephanie Austin, Howard Baldwin, Karen Elise Baldwin, Mace Neufeld
Matthew McConaughey as Dirk Pitt
Steve Zahn as Al
Penelope Cruz as Eva
A couple of buddies are looking for a treasure from the days of the Civil War which they believe is now in Africa somehow (just go with it). At the same time, a good-looking doctor from the World Health Organization is studying a plague of some sort, which she believes, is spreading in that continent. Together, the threesome team up for plenty of sex in the Sahara and call it a ménage-a-- just kidding. Together, they team up against generic baddies and kick some ass, make some jokes and smoke some weed (well, okay…we don’t actually seem them smoking weed, but one look into McC’s eyes and you’ll know what I’m talking about!).
Steve Zahn almost saves this film with his goofy smile, goofy hair, goofy one-liners and stoner demeanor, but his successful comic relief isn’t enough to recommend that you pay good money to see this movie on the big screen as it takes way too much time to get going, teeters on for way too long, doesn’t generate enough charisma via its so-called “hero” lead character named Dirk Pitt and ultimately, delivers a few decent action sequences, some laughs and so-so divertissement, but nothing over which to wake your grand-mama. The thing that surprised me the most about this film was the lack of “oomph” or connection that I felt toward its leader, which played by Matthew McConaughey, I totally expected to rock my house, as he did as the awesome Van Zan in REIGN OF FIRE. Sadly, other than his bright white teeth and great abs, not much about his performance or character kept me all that interested. Penelope Cruz was also pretty static here, as her character seemed to mope around most of the time, repeating the same line over and over again, about her being a “doctor from the W.H.O.” We got it, honey…now get into a tanktop and have some fun (this only happens during the film’s finale, which does jack some “fun” into the proceedings). Zahn, on the other hand, is hilarious, as his facial expressions alone cracked me up, and honestly saved the first half of the movie, which for some reason, took forever to get going, with musical montages intertwined with scenes of characters talking a little too much about the same shit.
We get it, guys…there’s a treasure in the desert…just get to it already!! This is an “adventure” movie, not THE ENGLISH PATIENT! That said, I really enjoyed the film’s opening sequence set in the old days, as well as its final 20-30 minutes or so, which were also a lot of fun. Some of the stuff in the middle also featured decent action, particularly a cool-ass boat chase that ended on a pretty nifty move called “The Panama”, but a lot of the other stuff was generic action, especially the hand-to-hand combat scenes between Mac and his enemies, which were edited a la most PG-13 flicks of our day—way too fast and way too close-up. You barely see any of the punches/kicks and don’t even know who’s winning half the time. I guess directors don’t believe in wide shots anymore—or the actors simply suck at fighting. All in all, this ain’t Indiana Jones by any stretch of the imagination, as it lacks the pace, the chemistry between the characters, the awesome balance of action, drama and humor, but it does deliver on a decent level on most of those fronts, particularly if you’re thinking about renting it on DVD. Its score was also pretty cool. Mind you, if you’re looking for a flawless plotline, this likely won’t light your penis either. That stuff didn’t bother me so much though--- it’s an action flick after all, and the French are finally the bad guys…which was nice. By the way, I’m a fan of Delroy Lindo and all, but his tiny appearance in this film didn’t deserve a “With…Delroy Lindo”, man…that’s a cameo, at best!
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian