Mixed or average reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 36
  2. Negative: 10 out of 36
  1. Leaving aside Huston's bland acting and a few other flaws, Sayles's politically charged drama raises a rousing number of issues and ideas, inviting us to ponder them and draw our own conclusions.
  2. 88
    That Sayles is able to say these things in the context of a compelling story with well-defined characters makes this one of the early fall triumphs of 2004.
  3. 88
    The movie's strength, then, is not in its outrage, but in its cynicism and resignation.
  4. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    Smart, intriguing, funny and sad, with some primo wisecracking dialogue.
  5. 75
    The real action in Silver City happens on the fringes, where the mischief is. Daryl Hannah is spice incarnate as Dickie's sexy screw-up sister. Billy Zane plays a lobbyist with insinuating soullessness. And Dreyfuss feasts on the snappiest lines.
  6. It comes off as a fairly straightforward assault on the kind of political corruption that has crossed party lines in movies since the dawn of the medium, and in books before that. The pleasure here is in the dialogue, the characters and the cast.
  7. 75
    A wickedly sexy Daryl Hannah is particularly memorable as the Pilager family's black sheep Maddy.
  8. It's a cracking good detective yarn with hints of "Chinatown" and Raymond Chandler, and it's a sharp political lampoon of things we're all reading about on today's front pages.
  9. 70
    Sayles' version of reality is grim, but it provides an enlightening, grounding reminder that there's a far more crucial world of politics going on behind the headlines.
  10. It's a dense, winding tale with all of Sayles' razor-sharp dialogue and intrigue. But instead of tracing character paths, Sayles sacrifices solid storytelling in favor of forwarding a political (and environmental) ideology.
  11. 63
    Huston, unfortunately, is never really believable as a man rediscovering lost principles; he feels out of place in this otherwise fine ensemble.
  12. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Though there's nothing wrong with moral outrage, it doesn't always aid the telling of a complex story. More subtlety might have worked better.
  13. 60
    Pointed, unsubtle political satire.
  14. Reviewed by: Heidi Martinuzzi
    Slow paced, but interesting.
  15. Using Dickie Pilager as a stand-in for George W. Bush seems too coy a tactic for these scabrous times. For better or worse, we want the real--or at least, the "real"-deal.
  16. Nobody in it seems organically connected to anybody else. In a movie devoted to the idea that everything and everyone is connected, this is a serious failing, and it undermines Mr. Sayles's noble intentions.
  17. There’s definitely ore to be mined in Silver City but Sayles’ pan comes up with only particles of dust.
  18. A series of miscalculations caused this project to lose its way, until what we're left with is a film that should involve us more than it does.
  19. Wildly uneven, with long stretches as dull as Dickie.
  20. 50
    The satire doesn't go far enough.
  21. Long, windy, diffuse in its message and blunt in its satire.
  22. 50
    The plot of Silver City is movieish in the extreme, with filthy abandoned mines subbing for the bars and alleys of urban noir, but it’s no more than mild cheese--“The Big Sleep” or “Chinatown” without the malice, rigorous design, and narrative epiphanies.
  23. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    As both political satire and noirish murder mystery, this Newmarket pickup may be too meandering and unemphatic for wide consumption.
  24. Sayles, it seems, doesn't think much of his audience, and the tone of his discourse is only nominally less pandering than a politician's.
  25. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    Takes off into the comic stratosphere in its first sequence and then slowly sinks to Earth, made logy by its noble means and Sayles' increasing inability to shoot anything but fat clots of undramatic talk in the most boring manner imaginable.
  26. Essentially a series of walking character sketches. The storytelling is slack and lackluster, the cliches rampant.
  27. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    As it is, the movie only shudders to life when Dickie Pilager's onscreen.
  28. 33
    Sayles has committed the cardinal sin of putting his politics ahead of his characters, and the result is predictably lame.
  29. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    An uninvolving muddle.
  30. 30
    Fails to allow the talented ensemble time to develop "Sunshine State’s" fine, Altmanesque ensemble feel, again and again missing the human and leaving cartoons that satisfy only as agitprop.
  31. It tries unsuccessfully to make a wry gumshoe noir out of an overarching, cross-sectional political diagram.
  32. If Sayles had persuaded me he knew anything about Bush, his background, or his entourage that isn't already well-known, I might have felt more like laughing.
  33. Silver City may be the mustiest political-conspiracy tale ever filmed; it's like "Chinatown" rewritten by Ralph Nader.
  34. It wears out its welcome well before its halfway point, by which time you're either so tangled up in plot points you're strangling, or so bored you just wish you were being strangled.
  35. Mr. Sayle's portrait is painfully unfunny, and the movie as a whole is a plodding polemic.

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