North Texas Daily

Review: “The Lone Ranger”

Review: “The Lone Ranger”

Armie Hammer is the masked John Reid in "The Lone Ranger." Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

Review: “The Lone Ranger”
July 03
10:45 2013

Preston Barta / Film Critic

Rating: 2/5

Gore Verbinski, the director who made an even bigger star out of Johnny Depp with the swashbuckling franchise known as “The Pirates of the Caribbean,” is no stranger to the kind of spectacle that summer audiences want to see. Going from sea to sand, and trading Captain Jack and his pirate ships for Tonto and coal trains, Verbinski and the deep pockets of producer Jerry Bruckheimer bring “The Lone Ranger” to the big screen and run it right off the rails.

The film follows Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Depp), as he recounts the untold tales that took John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, and made him into a masked legend of justice — The Lone Ranger.

Based on the popular television series, “The Lone Ranger” puts sidekick Tonto center stage, with Depp’s trademark eccentricity at max capacity. This reimagining is far from the Tonto that Jay Silverheels used to play on the TV show in the 50s. Instead, Depp splashes white paint on his face, throws a dead crow atop his head and recalls his kookiness that was displayed aboard the Black Pearl to create one scary looking, goofball of a character.

Despite how his Tonto may seem like every other character Depp has played, Depp actually rises above his co-stars with his impeccable comic timing and one-liners, giving the film its much-needed humor when the unrestrained action goes to the back seat. The best facet to Depp’s character is his unpredictability. Whether he is climbing a ladder while aboard a moving train or trading feathers and birdseed for valuable items, you never know what quirky thing he’s going to deal next.

Hammer, who gave outstanding performances as “the Winklevii” in 2010’s “The Social Network,” pitches an earnest performance in the title role, but lacks the charm and macho-ness that Clayton Moore possessed back in the day. However, the issue is not of the actors, but instead with the writers of the convoluted script.

Screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, who penned “The Pirates of the Caribbean” films, cannot hold the reins on this bucking horse, as the tangled plot is structured around long set pieces and drawn-out episodes. It far overstays its welcome, clocking in at a grueling 150 minutes and aimlessly wandering from screwball buddy-comedy to absolute shameless slapstick to a shockingly violent western completely unsuitable for young viewers.

Surrounding this confusing multi-genre mash-up is an utterly ridiculous framing device involving, of all things, a kid and a talking Native American statue. If that sounds harebrained, that’s because it is. It’s very clear that the filmmakers put very little thought into this travesty and just made it to cash in on Depp’s name.

While there are many great elements within, such as Depp’s performance and the last half-hour, featuring the famous musical theme from the old TV show, “The Lone Ranger” loses its wagon wheel too early on and winds up being an absurd reincarnation of the cookie-cutter Depp vehicle. Filmgoers who were hoping for two non-stop hours of fun, spend your money elsewhere and wait to catch it on Netflix or on the unlucky network that picks it up.

“The Lone Ranger” opens today.

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