Tedious and Disappointing For Valerii/Gastaldi/Nero
A movie directed by the great Tonino Valerii, scripted by the great Ernesto Gastaldi and starring the great Franco Nero raises high expectations. In the case of SAHARA CROSS (1978), I regret to say that mine were not nearly met. Director Valerii is best known for his Westerns including I GIORNI DELL'IRA (DAY OF ANGER, 1967), IL PREZZO DEL POTERE (THE PRICE OF POWER, 1968) and, especially IL MIO NOME E NESSUNO (MY NAME IS NOBODY, 1973). His filmography also includes great contributions to other genres, such as the fantastic Giallo MIO CARO ASSASSINO (MY DEAR KILLER, 1972). Ernesto Gastaldi is one of Italy's most prolific screenwriters, his oeuvre including such masterpieces as Sergio Martino's Gialli or Umberto Lenzi's brilliantly brutal Poliziottesco MILANO ODIA: LA POLIZIA NON PUÒ SPARARE (1973). And Franco "Django" Nero is one of the most widely respected Italian actors, for very good reasons. With such a great director/screenwriter/star team, it is even more disappointing that the monotonous Action/Adventure SAHARA CROSS is such a bore.
Nero plays the leader of a bunch of mercenaries who help with the investigation of oil in the Sahara Desert. When one of them is killed in an attack by a bunch of terrorists, the group decide to follow the evildoers and avenge their friend... which results in a very tiresome hunt.
Overall, SAHARA CROSS is far too slow-paced and, in some parts, actually boring. None of the characters are likable, nor are they selfish or ruthless enough to be interesting for that. There is far too little gore and violence (even though there is some), and no sleaze or nudity (one sex-scene takes place off-screen. For a movie with a rather uninteresting plot, this is not much. The score by Riz Ortolani is great as all his works, and Franco Nero is cool as always, but that's pretty much everything there is to recommend SAHARA CROSS. Not necessarily a bad film, but doubtlessly disappointing considering the talent involved in it, and actually quite tedious at times. Not recommended.
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