The Lone Ranger
The Lone Ranger gets off to a pretty good start with a genuinely exciting runaway train and it ends spectacularly with a thrilling shootout aboard two high speed iron horses set to the William Tell Overture.
However everything in between is a beautifully shot slog through the quicksand of western clichés occasionally broken up by a humorous remark from Johnny Depp’s Tonto.
In this version of the iconic hero who first rose to fame on radio in the 1930′s, Tonto is the brains of the operation.
Depp’s take on the character wears warpaint, has a dead crow on his head, and still speaks in Hollywood Indian speak.
But he is the one with a clear vision and the skills to accomplish a task. He embraces the Hollywood Indian cliché for a millisecond, and then turns it on its head. There’s something daring about this performance which doesn’t always work, but I like that Depp is taking chances.
Armie Hammer is big city prosecutor John Reid, who’s come to seek justice against a known thief and murderer Butch Cavendish.
He joins his brother and the rest of the Texas rangers to find Cavendish’s gang, but they’re ambushed in a ravine.
Hammer is left for dead, until Depp’s Tonto and a spirit horse named Silver bring him back to life.
Hammer plays the Lone Ranger as a naïve, square-jawed buffoon, who is constantly getting into scrapes, only to have Tonto figure out a way out of them.
Depp and Director Gore Verbinski have essentially tried to recreate their “Pirates Of The Caribbean” brand of whimsy in the Old West.
Verbinski makes great use of the New Mexico locales, and the western towns are beautifully detailed. There are colorful supporting characters (too many in fact) including a western madame with a shotgun stashed in her leg, a greedy railroad man, an outlaw fond of women’s bonnets and then there’s Butch Cavendish (William Fitchner).
The familiar outlaw has been transformed into a cannibalistic killer with a heart-wrenching scene just shy of “Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom.”
The overstuffed story bogs down with its overarching plot about Indian wars, the transcontinental railroad, and a secret stash of silver.
And it keeps plodding the same ground over and over again. If you took a shot every time someone asked The Lone Ranger about his mask, you’d never be able to drive home. And The Lone Ranger and Tonto make so many narrow escapes that when Cavendish tries to blow them up in an underground mine tunnel he says “these guys have a hard time staying dead.”
At nearly two and a half hours, The Lone Ranger really overstays his welcome.