Directed by John Sayles, starring Maria Bello, Thora Birch, Chris Cooper, Richard Dreyfuss, Daryl Hannah, Danny Huston, Kris Kristofferson, Tim Roth and Billy Zane.

John Sayles is not afraid of satirising politics, particularly politics of the day. This neo-noir, released during the American Presidential Election last year, was intended to provoke discussion on corrupt politics. But the sleaze goes much deeper than the incompetent Governor that it portrays, deeper than brown envelope business deals, privatisation and personal benefit and into the underground world of undocumented migrant workers and murder.

Richard Pilager (Cooper) is a grammatically challenged, user-friendly politician and son of a venerable Senator running for Governor of Colorado. While shooting a 'Richard Pilager cares about the environment' campaign photo, his fishing line gets hooked on a cyanide-laced body. Wanting to keep this discovery low profile, Chuck Raven (Dreyfuss), Pilager's rottweiler campaign manager, calls in former reporter and private investigator Danny O'Brien (Huston).

Danny must give certain people a stiff warning that they're being watched as he investigates if the body was planted there, by one of the many enemies of the Pilager family, to derail the campaign. In true detective style, Danny is unavoidably pulled into a web of power and corruption as he investigates the murder. The murder trail leads him to lobbyists, media conglomerates and undocumented migrant workers as he discovers a link between the most random sectors and sinister politics.

'Silver City' introduces characters one-by-one just as Danny meets them. We get a little look into everyone's lives, leaving the truth hanging in the air 'til the end. And while there is top-class acting, there are some missed opportunities where fantastic actors are wasted in small, lesser roles - like the doped-up Maddy Pilager (Hannah), the black-sheep of the family, who has nothing but ill-will towards her clan.

As Pilager, Cooper reduces politics to catch phrases in some very entertaining scenes, in an apparent attack on George W Bush. While Sayles is socially conscious and pushes this, 'Silver City' doesn't offer anything new either in the story itself or in the telling. It does bring you into the world of sinister politics and nefarious characters, but time may have been better spent documenting real-life dodgy politics and real-life scandals rather than creating and adding to it with fictitious wasters.

A murder mystery colliding with dodgy politicians, 'Silver City' is an all-American story that will either have you pining for some charismatic Irish politicians or make you sick.

Patricia O'Callaghan