In mid-18th century America, woodsman Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) lives amongst British colonists in New York state, but shares the cultural values of his adopted Mohican father, Chingachgook (Russell Means). At the height of the French-Indian war, Hawkeye is asked to lead two British sisters, Cora and Alice (Madeleine Stowe and Jodhi May), through dangerous territory to their father's fort. With the French-allied Hurons on their trail, one of whom has a personal vendetta against the daughters, Hawkeye and his companion Uncas still find time for romance with their charges, much to the chagrin of the accompanying Major Duncan Heyward (Steven Waddington), who has set his cap at Cora.
Back when they came together to make The Last Of The Mohicans
, Daniel Day Lewis had never tackled an action movie, and director Michael Mann was still best known for his Miami Vice
TV show. And yet their pairing proved to be an inspired one. Based at heart on the novel by James Fenimore Cooper, in The Last Of The Mohicans
Day Lewis plays Hawkeye, the last of his tribe, in an adventure that mixes romance, action and some stunning scenery.
Michael Mann takes real time to move all the pieces into place, too, setting up the motivations of characters on both sides of the story, before motoring up to a near dialogue-less extended sequence near the end of the film that you’ll likely never tire of watching. Accompanied by a glorious score from Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman, The Last Of The Mohicans often looks and sounds wonderful.
It’s a film that hasn’t aged, either, and the Blu-ray release, complete with a few minor changes from director Michael Mann, presents it beautifully. It’s interesting that, post-The Last Of The Mohicans, Daniel Day Lewis chose not to pursue another action role, as he brings far more authority to the character than most could have managed. But if this is to be his only entry into the genre, then it’s an inspired one. The Last Of The Mohicans was and is terrific cinema. --Jon Foster