2004 Certificate: 12


Matthew McConaughey stars as author Clive Cussler's all-action treasure hunter Dirk Pitt in this rip-roaring Indiana Jones-lite adventure. In this caper, Dirk is searching for a 150-year-old warship that's believed to have washed up in... the African desert. Steve Zahn plays the trusty sidekick and Penelope Cruz the tough-cookie doctor who helps to keep Pitt in one piece while director Breck Eisner keeps things moving as fast and furious as a sandstorm.


  • Breck Eisner


  • Matthew McConaughey

  • Penelope Cruz

  • Steve Zahn

  • Delroy Lindo

  • William H Macy

  • Lambert Wilson

  • Lennie James


While Stephen Spielberg gets round to resuscitating a creaking Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, this desert adventure will have to do. And it's not bad.

McConaughey is Dirk Pitt - not a porn star but a salvage expert working for William H Macy's independent treasure-seeking outfit NUMA.

He gets wind of an American Civil War Ironclad battleship that somehow ended up beneath the Sahara desert, a vessel referred to by locals as the "ship of death".

Heading off to Mali with his trusted sidekick and ex-US Navy SEAL colleague Al Giordino (Zahn), they discover they're not the only ones interested in the boat.

Tyrannical warlord Kasim (Lennie James) has his own reasons for seeing Dirk screw up and you suspect oily businessman Massarde (Lambert) is up to no good (he's French).

Along for the ride is Penelope Cruz as a frontline doctor for the World Health Organisation (stop sniggering) who's determined to find the source of a virulent plague.

Spielberg protégé Breck Eisner shows his skills as an action director with some stirring set pieces, notably a race against time in a chemical factory and a river speedboat chase.

You get the impression he's not managed to coax as much cash out of the accountants as his mentor but he makes every penny count with good use of Moroccan locations.

McConaughey, bronzed and toned, lacks the world-weary humour brought to the action adventure party by Ford but Zahn can always be counted on for wacky value.

The two-hour running time fair whizzes by - even if the beautiful cast make things sometimes look like a fashion shoot for Vogue - and the whiplash editing will have you ducking and diving in your seat.

Until Indie cracks the whip again, this will do just fine.

Tim Evans