In Review: The Lone Ranger

by Alan Simmons on 06/08/2013

the lone ranger still

Director Gore Verbinski teams up again with his Pirates of the Caribbean star, Johnny Depp, for a very strange and very long version of The Lone Ranger. The film has taken a drubbing from the critics and underperformed at the US box office. Although it has its problems – lots of them – it’s not all bad. Honest.

Depp plays Tonto (not The Lone Ranger) and while this may seem a bit dodgy (Johnny swears he has a splash of Cherokee in him) and just another excuse for him to get stuck into the dressing up box, he’s actually very good. Well, quite good, a fair whack of his screen time is given over to an awful framing device where a young boy in the 1930s encounters an elderly Tonto at a carnival and listens to his story. That part is awful. That part should have been cut out along with the majority of the second hour.

Anyway, the rest of the time Depp is good. Tonto is a bit bonkers, but far more reined in than Depp’s recent raft of on-screen nutters. He has all the best lines and watching him casually stroll through the film’s finale – that is utter mayhem -is fun. As is watching him argue with a horse. It all makes the actual Lone Ranger himself seem bland and Armie Hammer fully embraces this with a forgettable portrayal that makes that middle hour that shouldn’t be there even more gruelling.

The rest of the cast fare better. Helena Bonham Carter saw Johnny Depp’s name on the call sheet, assumed her husband was directing, and bowled up to play Red, a brothel madam. She only gets a few scenes (a crime) but is irrepressible as ever and sports an ivory leg with a concealed gun inside it. The other remaining positive is William Fichtner’s a hare-lipped heart-eater, whose vile and violent acts will have you questioning the film’s 12A certification.

What should have been a simpler, shorter, sharper origin tale has been blown out to a slog through Monument Valley. The Lone Ranger wouldn’t be as bad if it didn’t waste three good performances, some mental humour and a great train chase. It’s the weirdest, longest-feeling film of the summer with an admittedly cracking finale.

Alan has awarded The Lone Ranger two Torches of Truth


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