It strikes me that there is still a certain amount of what I would call 'White-Man Burdenism' (ooh I've found an ism...) in Western film making.
Take for example The Constant Gardener, a film that received much praise and started well but left me ultimately unmoved. After much running around, pretty photography and gratuitous flashbacks, the big reveal is that big pharmaceutical companies are conducting drug trials illegally on people who can't afford to refuse.
What, really? You don't say!
Honestly, even someone like myself who would not consider myself particularly politically aware was not exactly surprised by this scenario, even though I get the impression we are supposed to think: good lord, I must write to my MP!
But even above the obviousness of the scenario, it is the fact it needs an upper middle-class white guy and his anarchistic journalist girlfriend (and did anyone believe that relationship?) to bring it to the world's notice. Yes, I applaod Le Carre and the filmmakers for feeling that this was an important subject to write about/film but it still ends up being terribly patronising.
Sahara is even worse, but mainly because it is a truly badly made film. It is terribly uneven in tone, not sure whether it wants to be Indiana Jones or Lawrence of Arabia, and has an uneven pace that makes it feel like it is going on for hours. Oh yes, and Matthew McCanaughey, proving himself once again to be a smug and unlikeable lead. And once again, white dude saves the country for the poor, helpless natives.
Much better is Syriana, which is not perfect but at least makes some effort to show the complexities of world affairs instead of making things black and white.