“Geronimo: An American Legend” is based on the true story of a fierce, Chiricahua Apache warrior who waged war against the Mexicans and Americans in the 1800s.  With names such as Walter Hill, Jason Patric, Wes Studi, Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, Matt Damon and John Milius attached to this movie, you would think “Geronimo: An American Legend” would be a very good movie.  Not so.  In the words of Daffy Duck in one of his old school cartoons, this movie is, “dare I say, mediocre!”

I’ve seen many Walter Hill movies.  “48 Hours/Wild Bill/Extreme Prejudice/The Long Riders/The Warriors/Southern Comfort.”   These are very good, very entertaining movies that had great pacing and very good direction.  The man knows what he’s doing.  So I don’t know what happened with “Geronimo.”  We all have our off days, that I understand.   But to have an off movie?  On average it takes months to produce a Hollywood A-movie.  And that doesn’t take into account pre-production and post-production.   So having an off movie means a director was off his game for almost a year.

But it’s not all Hill’s fault.  The screenplay was also mediocre.  And that is also shocking as John Milius is known for writing good scripts.  “Geronimo” is simply not an exciting script.  The pacing is off, it’s not structured well.   For those of you who don’t write screenplays, or never bothered to really analyze the pacing of a good movie, there’s a level of tension that keeps rising to the very end.  Of course, there are moments when the tension decreases, but when it starts again, it gets higher than the previous high.  So if you were to graph it, it would be a jagged, upward climb from left to right.   If I were to graph the pacing/tension of “Geronimo” we would see flatlines and severe dips all throughout.   A script that has that will translate into an uneven, boring movie.

There’s another person to blame here: Jason Patric.   His performance is one dimensional.   No matter what is happening around him, he has the same expression.   There’s no energy or excitement to his performance.  He goes about his role as if he’s vacuuming a carpet.

What the hell!   Was everyone suffering from heat exhaustion during the making of this movie?   If that was the case, I can understand.  It takes me almost 2 hours to properly clean and protect all the exterior parts of my car, including putting all my supplies away.   The last time I did it was last Friday, when the temperature was 95 and sunny and humid.  By the time I was done, I was like a zombie for a little while because the sun just sapped most of my energy.

Okay, let’s move on to Matt Damon.  He gave a decent performance despite a small and underdeveloped role.   His talent simply wasn’t used properly.  Maybe it was because he was still considered small fry at the time the movie was made (around 1993).   He was so young in this movie that he looked like he was 15!

Wes Studi, the go-to Native American actor Hollywood chooses when they need someone to play an intense, Native American character, also does the best he can with the mediocre script given to him.   You can almost see the frustration in his face from being trapped in a movie that doesn’t unleash his full potential as an actor.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he wanted to scalp Hill and Milius and Patric.

Overall “Geronimo” feels like a direct to video B-movie.  I don’t know how long it lasted in the movie theaters.  Back then we didn’t have the speed of information available to the masses like we do now, so a movie like this, if hyped up enough, can sucker people into paying to watch it for a few weeks.   I’m happy to say I was not one of the suckers.  I waited until it was available at Blockbuster.

Ahh, Blockbuster.  I remember when they came into NYC/Long Island.  They made the mom and pop video stores virtually obsolete.   Porn was the only thing keeping some mom and pop stores alive, as Blockbuster refused to carry porn —  I never understood that;  a video store without porn is like a shoe without laces.   In the 90’s, Blockbuster was like the U.S. government and mom and pop video stores were like the Apache.   About a decade later, Blockbuster became the Apache, and the internet and Netflix was like the U.S. government.  How fitting.

And now we get to the most memorable movie moment in “Geronimo”:  the scene where Damon, Duvall, Patric, and an Apache scout come upon a Native American village that was massacred so that scalps can be had to exchange for money.   Duvall says something like “must be Texans…the lowest form of white man there is.”  Ha ha!  I have nothing against Texas or Texans.   I simply find white people disparaging certain groups of white people hilarious.

In second place for most memorable movie moment is the scene where the Apache scouts, who work for the U.S. Army, are disarmed, discharged, arrested and imprisoned when their services are no longer needed.  To add insult to injury, an Army officer thanked them for their service on behalf of Uncle Sam.

I don’t know about the rest of you; but when I get a good screwing, I’m the one who does the thanking!

M

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