Memo to the Department of Defense:
They say that only one out of a thousand rounds fired in combat are actually aimed at anything. The other 999 are fired to keep the guy who is shooting at you from having time to aim at you. My own figures, compiled informally from viewing approximately 1,000 movies where bullets fly from automatic weapons, is the ratio is closer to one in a billion. But, watching Sahara, I had an epiphany. Those dudes shooting at Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn (the designated sidekick, and probably doomed to remain so for the rest of his life), and Penelope Cruz were aiming the best they could. It’s just that our heroic trio were protected by the secret weapon the Pentagon should be studying: The wisecrack. It’s a fact! If you’re wisecracking, nobody can hit you! (I think you’re also able to do things the human body can’t normally do, like jump and leap and fall in ways that would normally fracture bones, but that requires more study.)
Okay, Penelope doesn’t actually wisecrack, she’s the designated “serious” character, the one dedicated to stopping some freakin’ plague or a really nasty rash or something, a doctor, fer chrissake, and you don’t wisecrack if you’re trying to stop a plague or a really nasty rash or something. But she is protected by something else the Pentagon should be studying: She’s a girl.
It’s true! Bullets from automatic weapons can’t hit girls! Think about it, generals. Maybe all our combat troops in the future should be pretty, serious, girl doctors. Think of the money and lives that could be saved. But in the meantime, why waste any more money on automatic weapons that can’t hit people and helicopter-borne cannons and rockets that can’t kill anyone? Why not train our troops to wisecrack? Hire a lot of Hollywood screenwriters to come up with lines our guys on the front lines can toss back and forth when the action gets hot. I’d be happy to help out, at WGA standard rates. Here’s a sample, approximately (I was dozing a lot, so I can’t be sure):
“We’ll have to pull a Bermuda!”
(Two gunboats discharge 90,000 rounds of armor-piercing ammo at the huge pleasure boat our heroes are fleeing in, succeeding only in scratching the woodwork on the dashboard.)
“What’s a Bermuda!?”
(50 rockets are fired from the gunboat, scorching a little paint.)
“You don’t remember? That time in Bermuda?”
(90,000 more rounds are fired; one engine dies, but luckily we’ve got another!)
“Just do what I say!”
(They do something involving a cut fuel line—and it’s a helluva boat, it apparently don’t need no steenkin’ fuel, it keeps going!—a lit cigar, a U-turn, and bailing out at 60 knots. Boat explodes, taking gunboats with it. For some reason, all three boats explode seven times, something I haven’t figured out yet, but deserves further study, generals. The heads of our heroes bob out of the water.)
“So that’s how a Bermuda works!”
“Well, last time it didn’t work.”
(Steve Zahn looks incredulous, they swim to shore, and ride away on camels conveniently available at a nearby Hertz Rent-a-camel.)
So let’s stop wasting money equipping our troops with all those expensive big automatic weapons. A buck knife and a .45 ought to be enough for any situation, so long as they’re wisecracking. Also, forget about attacking with a helicopter. They are totally vulnerable to 150-year-old Civil War cannons found in the African desert (don’t ask). One shot is all you need, delivered at the last possible second.
Also, forget about Hummers. You know what a Hummer costs? The military version is well over a hundred grand. Our troops should be riding in 1936 Voisin touring cars. With my own eyes I witnessed one absorb well over 50,000 rounds without so much as a flat tire. Of course, since they only made 6 of them (action pic heroes can tell things like this from only a glimpse of a hood ornament) it might be a problem. But maybe replicas would work just as well. Let’s give it a try! It’d be lots classier than armored Hummers, which we can’t seem to make enough of anyway.
End of memo.
Now, as to the movie … One thing that even a very bad movie like this can use to earn points with me is to take me to exotic locations. Places I’ve never seen. I wasn’t optimistic with Sahara. I’ve seen sand. In fact, I’ve probably seen every desert in the world, from the Gobi to the Sahara to the great outback of Australia. Of course, many of those were actually filmed in the Mojave or Death Valley or even in the dunes I can almost see from my front door. (Cecil B. DeMille’s original The Ten Commandments was filmed ten miles from here.) What I hadn’t seen was Lagos, Nigeria, the Niger River, and the ancient mud cities of Mali. Cool! I enjoyed that part. I was only a little disappointed to get home, go to the IMDb, and discover I was actually seeing Morocco, Spain, Shepperton Studios and Hampshire. Oh, well, that’s show biz!