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 Al Giordino: Well, we're in the desert, looking for the source of a river pollutant, using as our map a cave drawing of a Civil War gunship, which is also in the desert. So I was just wondering when we're gonna have to sit down and re-evaluate our decision-making paradigm?

Dirk Pitt: I don't know - it seems to be working so far.

Sahara is a 2005 action-adventure Film starring Matthew McConaughey as Adventure Archaeologist Dirk Pitt. While engaged in a deep-sea salvage off the coast of Nigeria with his partner Al Giordino (Steve Zahn), Dirk discovers evidence that a lost Civil War ironclad may have managed to cross the Atlantic and wind up in Western Africa. Simultaneously, he saves the life of a WHO doctor (Penelope Cruz), who is investigating the source of a strange disease. Together they travel up the Niger River, searching for the missing ship and the toxins causing the disease, while evading the forces of General Kazim, who rules over the region and may have something to do with the plague.

Though reasonably successful at the box office, this film was a notable financial disaster, costing the studio over $100 million in losses. The movie was also famous for prompting a multi-million dollar lawsuit by the writer of the original novel, Clive Cussler, against the producers of the film, a lawsuit that Cussler subsequently lost.

Tropes seen in Sahara:

  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Dirk Pitt
  • Badass: Dirk, again.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Not only is Penelope Cruz's character thrown around and beaten up multiple times, but she also falls through the floor of the Saharan Shipwreck and is buried under a huge pile of sand. Her face gets a little dusty. Other than that, her hair is perfectly styled and she still looks like straight out of her L'Oreal commercials.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: A chopper gets taken out by a Civil War-era ship’s cannon.
  • Bring News Back: Rudi gets volunteered to take data on the toxins back to Sandecker.
  • Conveniently-Timed Attack From Behind
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Do they honestly serve Massarde his own poisoned water in the end, without him noticing? Wow. But wait a minute. Do they even have an antidote by the end of the movie? It's never clearly established. Although they probably have.
    • Er, yes and yes. The scene with the water is adapted from the book, the same thing happens though the location and delivery method is different. Also, the antidote is explicitly mentioned by the American embassy man as being distributed in the... Is it 'denouement'?
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Yves Massarde, doing business with an African dictator. Although he doesn't seem to be aware of all the consequences of his actions.
  • Decapitated Army: Kazim's death seems like this at first. Lampshaded when the ones who did it (and indeed planned on it) immediately note that it shouldn't have worked. It didn't. In actuality, The Calvary had arrived and surrounded the army offscreen.
  • Diegetic Switch: During the boat trip along the niger river the music goes from soundtrack, to the moored boat's radio. Later, after the heroes launch the boat again, the different tune on the radio shifts into soundtrack once more as the boat speeds away along the river.
  • Distressed Damsel: Eva clearly is a scientist, no Action Girl. Dirk likes that.

 Dirk: "We need to find that bomb."

Al: "No. I'll find the bomb. You get the girl."

Dirk: "... Deal!"

 Dirk: "I'll bet you a hundred there's a tool kit in there."

Al: "I don't wanna rain on your crazy parade, buddy, but I don't think we can fix this thing."

*cue Crowning Moment of Awesome*

  • The Messiah: James Sandecker.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • When the head of the organization wants a U.S. government operative to help find his two people, the guy won't do it. So he mentions a specific date, something like "October 27, 1982." The operative says, "I thought you'd bring that up. If I help you, we're even."
    • Panama is another incident we only have a little bit of information on... aside for the fact that they apparently blew up a boat and that this plan didn't work. The boys found out after the Panama incident that they had, in fact, been in Nicaragua.
  • NUMA Series: The second movie adaptation from this series.
  • Outrun the Fireball
  • Plot Device: The old coin.
  • Running Gag: Al losing his hat.
  • Saharan Shipwreck: The object of Pitt’s search.
  • Shout-Out: A newspaper clipping of NUMA raising the Titanic is showing during the opening track around Pitt's cabin (might be regarded as Tempting Fate given the lack of success of that particular film).
    • Several of the other clippings in Pitt's cabin also reference some of the more memorable adventures that he and Giordino had in the other books in the series.
  • Stealth Pun: Admiral Sandecker is wearing a hat in one of the very last scenes: it's a Panama.
  • Tempting Fate: Pointing out that armour plate will protect you moments before being riddled by armor-piercing bullets.
  • Trailers Always Lie: One trailer had this lovely exchange while Dirk and Al are sailing across the desert, which is sadly not in the actual film...

 Al: "Hey! Where're we going?"

Dirk: "I dunno, but we're making great time!"

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