You can always count on director Michael Mann to deliver less than he promises. This one gets by better than most, even if the years have revealed every narrative seam. Still, thanks to Daniel Day-Lewis’s focus & sheer glamour as Hawkeye (frontiersman of modern morality & the only guy without a period accent), you may not notice (or care about) the defects. (You are likely to notice the lack of sharp image on the current Director’s Cut DVD. Interlaced transfer?) The adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper’s novel on the French/Indian/British war of the 1750s offers fine villains (Wes Studi’s vengeful Huron warrior; Patrice Chéreau’s witty, ambivalent French officer) and passionate love interest from Madeleine Stowe (posing as Parker Posey), but only the saturated color and the sweeping action (Mann manages to make massacres of British regiments pretty as a Watteau) have a shot at holding your attention next to Day-Lewis's tour-de-force animal magnetism. Faults and all, the film is irresistible.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: The much admired score from Randy Edelman & Trevor Jones has a pleasing Irish flavor to it (along with those ubiquitous Pan Pipes) that’s neither English, French, Colonial nor Native American. Catchy, though.