It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"The Jewel of the Nile" is more silliness in the tradition of "Romancing the Stone," which in its turn was a funny action comedy inspired by the Indiana Jones epics. We walk into the theater expecting absolutely nothing of substance, and that's exactly what we get, served up with high style. The movie reassembles three key "Romancing" cast members - Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito - and goes on to a fourth inspired casting decision with the addition of Avner Eisenberg as a holy man of gentle goofiness.
Movie-industry gossip has it that Kathleen Turner didn't particularly want to make this sequel, and that even Michael Douglas, who produces as well as stars, thought it might be best to quit while he was ahead. But the original contract specified a sequel, and it's to everybody's credit that "The Jewel of the Nile" is an ambitious and elaborate attempt to repeat the success of the first movie; it's not just a ripoff.
Even so, it lacks some of the pleasures of "Romancing," especially the development of the romance between Douglas and Turner. This time, as the movie opens, they're old friends, unwinding in Cannes and reminiscing about the good times they had in South America. Perhaps sensing that there is nowhere to go with this essentially stable relationship, the movie plunges them almost immediately into Middle East intrigue.
A fabulously wealthy Arab (Spiros Focas) invites Turner to travel with him to his homeland, for reasons as vague as they are fascinating. Douglas temporarily drops out; after a manufactured spat, he decides he would rather sail his boat through the Mediterranean. Turner is quickly involved in danger as the Arab reveals plans to usurp the role of a legendary holy man, and Douglas becomes an ally of the great spiritual leader, who is known as the Jewel of the Nile. (Danny DeVito is some what lost in all of this, and left for long stretches of the film to wander through the desert and suffer meaningless tortures in lieu of a clearly defined role.)