The Lone Ranger, 2013
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Starring Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, and Helena Bonham-Carter.
Native American warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.
The Lone Ranger has received quite the critical lashing since its release in the States, with many calling it this year’s John Carter. It has more or less failed (so far) to make its money back, prompting Johnny Depp to come out and defend the movie saying that it doesn’t need to make money in order to be successful and that it’s us critics who are responsible for its failure. But the question hanging over the movie for its UK release today is simply this – does The Lone Ranger deserve all this negativity?
In short – yes.
Armie Hammer plays John Reid, a man of the law who gets killed and brought back to life to fight for justice alongside Native American warrior Tonto (played by Depp). Together they track down an outlaw named Butch Cavendish (an almost unrecognizable William Fitchner) who killed Reid’s brother. The downside to this arrangement is that Tonto does not believe that Reid is worthy of the White Horse’s choice, creating conflict between the two that will need to be resolved if they are to bring Cavendish to justice.
To start off with some positives, all the actors involved are trying their hardest. Depp is actually quite good as Tonto and his months spent with Native American tribes have paid off in his performance. However, he is basically doing a Native American version of Jack Sparrow and it can admittedly get annoying at times, as if he is more concerned with mugging to the camera than reading his lines with conviction. Hammer is also good as the Lone Ranger, even if he is playing second fiddle to the more charismatic Depp. As the movie’s villain, Butch Cavendish is incredibly weak, but Fitchner is puts a lot of effort into the role and is really the star of the show. His charisma and charm shine through his prosthetics, which really elevates this lame Saturday Morning cartoon bad guy.
But sadly, the film suffers from one main problem – it’s really, really boring.
Which is a shame because the action sequences that open and close the movie are very good and among the best of the year. The opening scene involving Cavendish’s escape is thrilling, well shot and excellently choreographed and the film’s climax involving two runaway trains is even better – even if it does suffer from the ‘seen it in the trailer’ plague that has diseased many movies over the last few years. Neither scene outstays its welcome and the Lone Ranger theme music scoring the action will easily spread a huge smile across your face.
But the problem comes back to the fact that the film is dull. These two great action scenes and decent performances act as bookends to two hours of tedious, lifeless, tiresome and mundane dialogue and exposition scenes. Many have complained that The Lone Ranger is stupid which is very unfair because its idiocy and simplicity isn’t the issue – the story is just boring and uninteresting. If the script had any wit or charm to it then the complaints would be just, but it doesn’t have either. The plot never feels like its moving forward, meaning the only real action of The Lone Ranger is you looking at your wrist to check your watch.