In 1992’s “Last of the Mohicans,” a haughty British officer asks Hawkeye — played by Daniel Day-Lewis — if he calls himself a “loyal subject to the Crown.”
Hawkeye replies evenly, “I don’t call myself subject to much at all.”
It’s a short line and, in print, doesn’t appear particularly dramatic, but it’s stuck with me, largely because actor Day-Lewis so fully inhabited the character, a template for the classic American hero — the tough frontiersman who lives by his wits and skill as a hunter and warrior.
The film, based on James Fenimore Cooper’s novel, is set in 1757 — nearly 20 years before the Revolution. But in Hawkeye we see the future of restless America,...