What's not to like here? Val Kilmer, who has been quite reliable for a couple of decades, in a starring role in this multi-layered "based on true events" early 90s thriller. The great Sam Shepard playing an FBI agent -- gee, where have we seen that before -- and the always fabulous Graham Greene playing a Native American. And the latter is not type-casting.
Kilmer's young, cocky FBI agent is dropped into a steaming pile of crap when he is hand-picked to investigate a murder on a Native American reservation, because he has Native blood. Yep, its about the optics, and right there, the viewer could be wading into a hornet's nest unless he or she weren't in the sure hands of writer John Fusco and seasoned director Michael Apted. Which he or she is.
Their sure hands set the stage for a great murder mystery, and as that mystery is peeled layer by layer more is certainly reveled. Politics prevail, the history of terrible treatment of Natives by the US Government is sensibly but not melodramatically inter-woven. The lucky viewer even learns more about one of the worst in a long line of tragic events for Natives, Wounded Knee.
Leaving the politics out, though, Kilmer, Shepard and Greene are first rate, as is the great Fred Ward and many Native actors and actresses. And, by the way, the South Dakota scenery nearly steals the show. Brooding, powerful, gorgeous and very well-shot by Oscar-winner Roger Deakins.