Plot: After a long, brutal campaign to defend his people and their land, Geronimo (Wes Studi) has agreed to surrender and be taken to a reservation, removing one of the largest threats to western expansion. Lt. Gatewood (Jason Patric) leads the squad to take him into custody, with the intent to deliver the legendary Geronimo to Brigadier-General Crook (Gene Hackman). While things go as planned for a while, but soon Geronimo realizes that even with him resigned to peace, their treatment of his fellow Native Americans continues to be brutal and violent. As he cannot stand by as promises are broken and his people are hunted, he leads an escape and Gatewood is tasked to once again bring him in. This time he has the assistance of Scout Sieber (Robert Duvall), a veteran tracker who promises to deliver Geronimo right into their hands. But he is still one of the most dangerous foes the officials cross paths with, so can they bring him in and keep him there this time?
Entertainment Value: Geronimo: An American Legend is an interesting movie, as it has more of a historical perspective than most films of this kind, even if there are still some liberties taken. The narrative follows Geronimo and some of the government officials tasked with his capture, with an emphasis on character depth and showing both sides of the horrific conflict. In other words, Geronimo doesn’t overlook the violence unleashed between the sides, but it also makes sure to show the humanity in some of these folks, which is crucial. I know some will still take fault with the historical license taken at times, but this one weaves much more fact than fiction and to me, it does that a lot more than most of its peers. The movie boasts beautiful natural landscapes, well crafted action driven scenes, and a score that is a perfect fit for the material, not to mention Walter Hill’s excellent direction. So yes, Geronimo has a lot to offer and the movie is well made in all respects, with skilled technical craftsmanship and a human touch on the narrative that works wonders. The movie has all that western texture you could want, but is more drama than action, though kinetic, even violent scenes are present. I think it is a terrific movie and if you have an interest in westerns, historical pieces, or the multitude of skilled cast & crew involved, don’t miss this one.
The cast here is remarkable, starting off with Wes Studi in the lead as the legendary strategist Geronimo. Studi is excellent and brings the human side out, allowing for a three dimensional, believable incarnation. I’ve seen some other performers who didn’t put in this kind of work, so I am glad Studi was able to make the most of the character focused script and deliver this kind of superb effort. Jason Patrick, Gene Hackman, and Robert Duvall have prominent roles as government officials, all great performances and Duvall is understated, but powerful as usual. Patric has a little more depth to work with and makes good use of the character development, while the other two have smaller, but still impactful roles. This was also one of Matt Damon’s early roles and he serves as our narrator, so he is at the heart of the entire movie. I’d call this an ensemble piece based on the depth of the cast involved, but everyone pulls their weight and Geronimo is loaded with talent from top to bottom. The cast also includes Kevin Tighe, Stephen McHattie, M.C. Gainey, Mark Boone Junior, and Scott Wilson.
The Disc: Twilight Time’s Blu-ray release looks quite good, with a clean, warm presentation that offers a sizable improvement over previous home video editions, so fans should be pleased. The level of detail is rock solid and the print is clean, which combine to offer a lot of enhanced fine detail and with these kind of masterful visuals, that is a crucial element. The colors are natural, but lean toward warmer hues, while contrast is stark and accurate throughout. The extras include Ry Cooder’s isolated score and the film’s trailer.