The Lone Ranger (2013)
As promised and after all the build up and discussion I made it to see the much talked about and dragged through the mud The Lone Ranger (2013) which was not as disappointing as the critics would have you believe. Its more the lame horse that they just want to fail, just because it’s a re-teaming if Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski who had worked together on the Pirates of the Caribbean series that should have ended after Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). Still that’s another story.
Onto The Lone Ranger which is a reboot of the oldest franchise in history, that began in 1933, and cleverly worked into this origin story as we see a young boy at a fair meet the old and still weird Tonto (Depp) tell him the story of the beginning of The Lone Ranger. This adds some real depth to the western tale that could easily be built on truth, part of a wild-west show at a fair. Able to engage the younger audience who may never have seen or even heard of The Lone Ranger.
The first act is fast paced, introducing all the characters as John Reid (Armie Hammer) is coming into a Texan town as a lawyer, priding himself on the backbone of the law, doing anything he can to enforce it. Not what you would call a soon to be masked outlaw type of the wild west. Also on the train is the villain of the piece Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) in chains alongside Tonto on their way to trial. This is the set-up for the first of the big train fights, something that is not to be missed. You can see where all the majority of the overblown $250 Billion budget has gone, the trains and massive set pieces such as this. These are what the film should be remembered for.
Then what begins is an overly long origin of the Lone Ranger, with his annoying sidekick Tonto, the Comanche with no tribe. Depps portrayal as I have been concerned about since learning of his role. Depp gives an overblown Deppesque portrayal of a Native American. At times he does have words of wisdom for the “wrong brother” who has been chosen to fight for justice. The Robin hood of the west.
Set during after the civil war, when the rail-road was beginning to really take hold across the country, the backdrop for this film. There are a number of homages throughout the film, from Monument Valley again taking the place of Texas which was beautifully captured. It will never be able to compete however with the grandiose of John Ford. To the Comanche raid that referenced the family massacre in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). The film-makers have indeed done their homework, just not refined what you see, throwing it all in there, with few revisions.
It feels like forever before we start to see things come together to see justice being dealt to Cavendish’s gang who have caused more trouble than we first saw at the beginning. Once again we are on the rail-road, with a hint of Indiana Jones as they all fight for freedom, justice and the truth. There’s a lot to take in, plenty of laughs for all ages to enjoy. It’s far from being the disaster that the critics want it to be. Everything is thrown in there for good and bad measure. For a reboot, it feels too long, trying to say too much at once. I’m glad I’ve watched it, but wish they had recast the lead roles, or at least toned down the wackyness of Depp who as the side-kick has top-billing, a first in film, whilst a whiny and unsuitable Hammer as the Lone Ranger tries his best in a role that is just not for him. If and when (which I doubt) they make a sequel I would be happy to see John Reid recast, not sure by who, just not Hammer who is more a supporting player. Was it worth the wait? Yes and no, It’s another rare western on the big screen whilst It should have been trimmed to be a tighter and more exciting film. It did treat the Native American’s more sensitively than I expected (bar Tonto) who even when they meet their conclusion is more profound than I imagined for a Blockbuster. It may not make it’s money back just yet, the screening I went too wasn’t even 1/4 full on a summer night, eventually it may break even.
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- Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer: Critics to Blame for Lone Ranger Flop (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- Review: Verbinski’s ‘Lone Ranger’ is an Obvious, Pointless Blockbuster (firstshowing.net)
- ‘The Lone Ranger’: a ho-hum hi-yo Silver (seattletimes.com)