starring Matthew McConoughey, Steve Zahn, Penelope Cruz, Lambert Wilson, Rainn Wilson, Lennie James, Glynn Turman, Delroy Lindo and William H. Macy
written by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, John C. Richards and James V. Hart
directed by Breck Eisner
It wasn’t until after I got this DVD home and began watching it that I realized I already knew it. It is the film adaptation of the Clive Cussler novel of the same title. I have read many of Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt adventure novels since living in Japan. They are silly and formulaic, but fast paced, exciting and easy to read. This is only the second movie I have seen adapted from a Clive Cussler novel. The other is Raise the Titanic.
I didn’t want to rent the movie at first because I am not a great fan of Matthew McConoughey. I have disliked him ever since I saw him in the film Contact, with Jodie Foster. But the owner of my local video shop said it was a kind of Indiana Jones desert adventure, and I thought that was good for a winter holiday afternoon’s entertainment, snuggling under a blanket with a bottle of Diet Coke in my living room.
In short, the underwater marine explorer Dirk Pitt (McConoughey) discovers an American Civil War-era ironclad warship buried in the Sahara desert. How it got there in the first place is part of the story’s fun. Inside he discovers a cache of confederate gold and to further the adventure, in the middle of an African civil war zone, he stops a toxic contamination of Africa’sNiger River that threatens the Atlantic Ocean. In the novel, Pitt also discovers the mummified corpse of Abraham Lincoln inside the ironclad, Texas, although that was not written into this movie.
Delroy Lindo, one of my favorite actors, plays a small role as a CIA station chief in Nigeria. Steve Zahn co-stars as Pitt’s friend, Al Giordino, and William H. Macy as his boss at the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), Admiral Jim Sandecker (retired). I think William Macy is a great character actor, and Steve Zahn is just a great character, period. Zahn made his film debut as a guitarist in Tom Hanks’ movie The Wonders. I have seen him in a couple other films and he is always the weird, comic sidekick. Sort of like Jack Black, although I think Black is currently rated as star material by Hollywood producers while Zahn remains co-star material.
The script boasts four screenwriters. How many people does it take to adapt a book for the screen anyway? I suppose there were script problems and new writers were brought in to finish the job.