The Lone Ranger has been around since the 1930s, in radio, movies and TV. As the only non-comic book based hero this summer, he’s got his work cut out for him. The Lone Ranger rides again in Gore Verbinski’s new Disney movie, but it’s a very bumpy road.
Director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3, Rango) and Johnny Depp reunite for this retelling of the Lone Ranger’s origin. Lawyer John Reid (Armie Hammer) is deputized as a Texas Ranger by his older brother Dan (James Badge Dale)and joins the pursuit of outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner). John is the only survivor of an ambush by Cavendish, and is found by a Comanche named Tonto (Depp).
John seeks justice for the death of his brother, and reluctantly teams up with Tonto, who wants revenge for crimes against his tribe. Armie Hammer is a great fit for the Lone Ranger but Johnny Depp’s Tonto is too familiar.
Captain Jack was fun and original in the first Pirates film, but Depp’s Tonto is a parody of that character, in a different costume. He makes strange facial expressions, talks to himself and carries a dead bird on his head.
The story is told to us by Tonto, in one of many pointless things in this movie. A kid finds him as a part of an exhibit, where he comes to life, Night at the Museum style. The amount of makeup Depp wears to look old is more disturbing than the white war paint he has for the rest of the film.
The action scenes are fantastic but are separated by boring scenes of exposition, with subplots about a railroad, silver mining, John’s love interest who happens to be his dead brother’s wife and Comanche conflicts with settlers. That may explain why the movie is two and a half hours, of which, the last 20 minutes are the best.
The cast feels bloated with some great actors here that are wasted. Barry Pepper, Helena Bonham Carter, William Fichtner and Tom Wilkinson are crammed into a movie so big, that you forget they’re in it. Carter shows up twice and has a fake, gun leg. Why? Fichnter’s villain is serious enough for a real western, making him almost out of place here.
For what is supposed to be a family film, there’s some real violent and disgusting moments. I doubt parents want to see a man’s hair dragged through horse poop.
The last 20 minutes capture what the rest of the movie could have been. The Ranger rides to his famous William Tell Overture theme while saving the day. By the time it happens, you’re just glad that something is.
The Lone Ranger is cartoonish, too long and can’t decide what it is. The action is fun but everything between is painful. If you want a modern take on a classic hero, watch Antonio Banderas in The Mask of Zorro. If you want to watch Captain Jack walk around a desert, this is your movie.