The 3 Mohicans
Back in 1992 when I first watched Michael Mann's "The Last of the Mohicans" I was swept away by it, it felt epic and a breath of fresh air compared to many of the westerns which had come before. But watching "The Last of the Mohicans" again after 20 years I was a lot less impressed with it than I once was. Now that maybe because composer Trevor Jones used a very similar piece of music in "Cliffhanger" which was the main theme in "The Last of the Mohicans" but there are other reasons and aspects such as the action heroics which once blew me away now feel corny due to the styling. It is still an impressive movie and one which is a huge improvement on many a western which came before it but I found myself feeling like I was watching the equivalent of the more recent "Twilight" thanks to the over the top romanticized nature.
During the French and Indian War in 1757 the British Army enlist the locals as part of a militia in their fight against the French. Mohican Chingachgook (Russell Means) along with his son Uncas (Eric Schweig) and adopted son Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood) whilst unwilling to join find themselves escorting Major Duncan Heyward (Steven Waddington) along with Cora (Madeleine Stowe - The General's Daughter) and Alice Munro (Jodhi May) to a fort when they are betrayed by their guide Magua (Wes Studi) who leads them and his troops into an ambush. Whilst Heyward had feelings for Cora so does Hawkeye and whilst at the Fort Cora chooses Hawkeye much to Heyward's annoyance leading to betrayal. Things turn increasingly complicated when Col. Edmund Munro is forced to surrender the Fort to the French who betray the British by allowing Magua and the Huron tribe to attack the British after they leave.
There is no doubt that with "The Last of the Mohicans" Michael Mann created what was then a modern epic western, it had everything from romance to action with a storyline which continually evolved. And as I have already mentioned it was a huge improvement on many a western which preceded it with a well written story, interesting characters and a dialogue which was void of the usual corny cliches. In fact at the time of release it would be fair to say that I was swept up in the euphoria surrounding this modern epic which featured the always impressive Daniel Day-Lewis as the hero of the piece.
But that was back then and having watched Mann's "The Last of the Mohicans" for the first time since I found myself surprisingly disappointed and bemused by what now appeared a bit corny. That may shock many who love the movie but if you watch it again you might be surprised by how corny bits of it now feels. The reason for this is a combination of things and the best example is a scene which features Hawkeye running into battle, his hair flowing behind him as he picks up to rifles and one in each hand he shoots two guys whilst running with them missing him when they shoot with one gun each. This scene is in slow motion and accompanied by the movies main musical theme which as I mentioned was very similar to the one which would go on to be used in "Cliffhanger". The end result is he saves the girl and we get a slow motion embrace but it all ends up incredibly cheesy and strangely feels like some thing from "Twilight". That is not the only example and unfortunately "The Last of the Mohicans" is littered with these over stylized and fantasy action sequences which now seem more romantically corny than impressive.
To put it more simply "The Last of the Mohicans" is now dated in style and those over choreographed slow motion action scenes not only end up cheesy but spoil things. When the action is shown at normal speed there is a brutality to it especially in the mass scuffles which usually come from an ambush and those scenes still have the same impact. In fact much of the movie still has the same impact and it still feels an epic production which is entertaining only spoilt by those elements which are now dated.
As for the acting well whilst Daniel Day-Lewis as Hawkeye may be the star I would say that Russell Means as Chingachgook gives a more impressive performance because it is understated but powerful especially when it comes to the action scenes. In fact Madeleine Stowe as Cora also gives a stronger performance because she manages to make her romantic scenes believable. Don't get me wrong because Daniel Day-Lewis is good as Hawkeye but unfortunately because he is the focus of so many of those overly choreographed action sequences it also ends up now feeling cheesy.
What this all boils down to is that "The Last of the Mohicans" is still a good movie but it is one which stylistically has become dated and now feels a bit corny with the over the top action.