Directed by Breck Eismer, starring Matthew McConaughey, Penélope Cruz, Steve Zahn, William H Macy, Lambert Wilson, Lennie James and Rainn Wilson.

Based on Clive Cussler's series of adventure novels, 'Sahara' finds salvage expert Dirk Pitt drawn into political turmoil while on the hunt for an iron-clad warship, believed to be buried in the desert. As action adventure movies go, it's quite tongue-in- cheek, which is good because it hasn't got the plot of a serious moral tale.

Pitt (McConaughey) uncovers information about an American Civil War ship that, according to legend, travelled up the Nile to be lost somewhere in the African country of Mali. With his long-suffering buddy Al (Zahn), Pitt talks his boss Admiral Sandecker (Macy) into giving him time to look for the ship.

In exchange, Pitt and Al are required to take World Health Organisation doctor Eva Rojas (Cruz) to Mali so she can discover the source of a deadly disease that has killed several people. Mali is a country in the grip of political struggle, with warlord General Kazim (James) running an oppressive regime and wanting to keep Rojas quiet about the imminent epidemic.

Dirk and Al quickly abandon their search for the fabled ship in order to help Rojas solve the mystery and protect her from the bloody-minded Kazim, who will do anything to keep the secret of what's causing the sickness hidden.

'Sahara' has enough action to keep audiences entertained, but it's really the humour that makes it worth watching. The interaction between McConaughey's Dirk and Zahn's Al frequently causes a chuckle and it pokes well-aimed fun at the inefficacy of bureaucratic institutions. Zahn and the under-used Macy outshine both McConaughey, whose darkened skin and hair are probably the talking point of his performance, and Cruz, an actress who has far better roles to her name.

If you're a fan of the 'Indiana Jones' series or 'Romancing the Stone' and 'The Jewel of the Nile' this will appeal to you. If not, then the comedy may be some consolation for the implausible plot.

Katie Moten