Leiutenants Gateswood (Patric) and Davis (Damon) are sent on a mission to bring in the apache warrior Geronimo (Studi), after he goes renegade in response to the cavalry killing a medicine man. Things go from uneasy to worse when the reasonble General Crook (Hackman) is replaced with the tyrannical Genreal Miles (Tighe).
When the Western got hot again post Unforgiven, writer John Milius was able to get his long-cherished Geronimo script into production. The problem, however, is that this retells a familiar story in predictable terms.
Lieutenant Davis (Matt Damon), a young cavalry officer, narrates the film, expressing a great deal of hero worship for Lieutenant Gatewood (Patric), a Southerner sympathetic to the Apache. Gatewood is detailed by General Crook (Hackman) to accept the surrender of renegade die-hard Geronimo (Wes Studi), but the warrior breaks out of the Reservation when less liberal cavalrymen kill a medicine man and Crook is replaced by General Miles (Kevin Tighe), a hard-liner operating a policy of brutal repression. Gatewood and Davis, together with famed scout Al Sieber (Duvall), set out to bring the chief in again.
Though it makes play of its respect for Native Americans, and unusually doesn't skimp on presenting the Apache warrior heritage, Milius and Hill see Geronimo as an American hero, embodying the traditional bedrock values of being a violent bastard.
Generally solid and Patric holds up his end, but Studi gives a performance so good you wish this film was actually about Geronimo rather than yet another indulgence of the guilt of the White Man.