Lone Ranger, The (2013)

Director:  Gore Verbinski
Cast:  Johnny DeppArmie HammerWilliam Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Helena Bonham Carter
Plot:  Native American warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.

Genre:  Action / Adventure / Western

Awards:  Nom. for 2 Oscars - Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Visual Effects.
Runtime:  149min
Rating:  PG13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material.


“There come a time, when good man must wear mask.”

Johnny Depp essentially transports himself from the pirates and the high seas to a landlocked Wild West with sheriffs and bandits.  A Jerry Bruckheimer production of a Gore Verbinski film, The Lone Ranger is hopefully a rousing start to Disney's new wannabe franchise after the popular success of The Pirates of the Caribbean films. 

Its box-office figures will determine if a sequel will make any sort of headway, but judging by what I’ve seen, I must say that mainstream audiences will take to Verbinski's new film like fish to water.  Only that the water is muddied by a host of narrative clich├ęs and some of the most preposterous action sequences you will see this year.

Depp plays Tonto, a tribal kind of person who has lost his tribe because of an incident, and whose face must have erased chalk work from thousands of blackboards.  His partner, an outlaw of sorts played by Armie Hammer (The Social Network, 2010; J. Edgar, 2011) wears a mask to battle the violent bandits of the West. 

The movie tells the story of Hammer's character from the perspective of Tonto, who recounts from memory the events that would make up the film's bloated 149-minute runtime.  That is an issue because the film seems to be striving for an epic Western feel, but in the end its blockbuster sensibilities result in a comedy-adventure that doesn't quite hit the high notes of grandeur.

There are a couple of minutes of pure visual-aural grandeur though as an arrangement of Rossini's “William Tell Overture” accompanies the beginning of the climactic act.  Depp's performance brings up the humour quotient, and it must be said that without his presence in the film (and as its key marketing strategy), The Lone Ranger would have bombed, John Carter-style.  It still might, if poor reviews sway audiences away. 

The annoying toggling between the timelines of an old Tonto inconceivably recounting the legend of the masked horse-rider to a young boy in a museum, and the younger Tonto and his noble “sidekick” during their adventures on the high sands absorbs much of the narrative momentum, contributing to some needless pacing issues. 

The Lone Ranger is like Spielberg's dud Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) - action that borders on ridiculousness, plot development that lacks sense-making, and humour that falls flat more frequently than not.  Depp, however, makes the journey more bearable, but not necessarily believable.   

Verdict:  Filled with preposterous action, a bloated runtime, and striving for a mythical epicness that is destined for failure.


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