Johnny Depp’s ‘The Lone Ranger’ Show (Movie Review)

Lone RangerWhen I first learned that Disney was bringing back The Lone Ranger to the big screen I have to admit, I got rather excited.  Despite not being a huge fan of Westerns, I have fond childhood memories of the masked fighter of injustice and his white stallion, Silver.  Hi-ho Silver!  Away!  However, I had to check and hit the excitement brakes a few times over the past couple years when I learned about the budget issues and potential delay/cutbacks the production was dealing with and of course when I first saw Johnny Depp’s getup as Tonto.  I got a bit squeamish of that image to say the least.  This is Tonto?  But then came the trailers and as I read more and more about it and the film’s synopsis I thought maybe…just maybe…I can have a little fun with this one.  So here we are.  It’s 2013 and July 3rd is now upon us!  It’s time to saddle up and ride!  What say you?

Another setback for the production was the problem of finding the right director.  Under Jerry Bruckheimer’s care, Gore Verbinski was called upon to take the reigns.  In addition to the aforementioned Johnny Depp, a man who truly needs no introduction, the feature stars Armie Hammer as the legendary masked man, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, Ruth Wilson, James Badge Dale and Helena Bonham Carter.  And wouldn’t you know it…the score is provided by one of my all-time favorites…Mr. Hans Zimmer!  Come on!  You gotta love that!?

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So from what I hear, the original script written a couple years before this actual production began was given a supernatural treatment.  I remember hearing that and I kind of thought maybe the CGI involved with that was the problem Disney cited when they expressed budgetary concerns, but I digress.  Any which way you slice it, 250 million is a huge chunk of change to have as a budget!  And after the whole debacle with John Carter, you have to be pretty certain Disney is worried about getting their money back on this one or I would assume a lot of heads are going to roll.

As far as I’m concerned, all the issues I mentioned above and more are completely in the past.  We are gathered here today solely to discuss whether the film has any merit and well is it worth plopping your hard earned cash down on to see, right?  So let’s forego and skip past all the many years of production woes this flick has undergone and  let bygones be bygones as we focus on the present, my own worst enemy sometimes.  LOL.  In the spirit of the radio serials, once again I say hi-ho Silver!  Away!

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Wait!  Before we do everything I said we needed to do above I want you to wait a minute.  This movie’s not that spectacular.  In fact, I can’t even recommend paying full price for it other than a matinee.  Put it this way…like the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film, it’s plausible.  I’ve been told, but I don’t believe it for one second, that I nodded off during Act 2 in the press screening.  Wrong!  I remember everything about it.  Go ahead!  Ask me any question.  I’ll answer it.  BUT…let the truth be known…I was bored.  I remember sitting there and thinking to myself, really?  Where are all the big action sequences?  How come Johnny Depp is given freedom to steal every scene he’s in?  Why is the Lone Ranger such a bumbling goofball?  Yes, I used the word goofball.  There was no mystery to the man.  No scars!  There was no reason for him to even wear the mask.    Everyone knew who he was anyway.  And finally, there was no confidence in the man.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I know the main purpose of his character arc was to show his transformation from a man in the legal profession to a vigilante/ranger of the law, but what the hell…it sure took them long enough to accomplish that feat and by the exuberant time they did I just didn’t care anymore.

Now that’s not to say that The Lone Ranger is a bad film.  It’s not all bad.  Any fan of Johnny Depp’s Pirates quadrilogy will probably eat this up, but that’s just it.  Johnny Depp is Tonto.  He’s not THE Lone Ranger.  This isn’t supposed to be “The Johnny Depp Show.”  It’s The Lone Ranger after all!  I wanted the mask man I idolized in my childhood and I felt like he was taken away from me here.  It wasn’t until the film’s final act that I actually got excited for things as the action, as ridiculous as it was (even more so than a Fast & Furious film), kicked in and for the life of me I couldn’t tell who was on what train and what each trains’ function truly was.  It was a mad, sloppy adrenaline rush, but compared to the rest of the film…I was much happy to oblige in it.

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I think one of my main problems with the film in addition to the 30+ minutes that could have easily been excised was the way the narrative was told.  Tonto pretty much acted as the narrator throughout much of this film.  I won’t tell you how this was accomplished as that would be a bit on the spoiler side, but I don’t know why it was done this way either.  It immediately took me out of the movie and made it feel second rate like I was watching a third Night at the Museum entry or something.  You’ll get what I mean by that when you see it.

So in this reincarnation of the tale, Tonto (Depp) is obviously the Lone Ranger’s Comanche Indian version of Chewbaca and John Reid (Hammer) is the man of the law who’s transformed whether he likes it or not into the Green Lantern…err I mean the Lone Ranger.  It doesn’t require you owning a high school diploma to see this one coming…the two don’t get along immediately.  However, they better start getting along and fast if they ever stand a chance of seeking revenge against the notorious outlaw Butch Cavendish (Fichtner).  And I’ll stop right there for a moment.  Besides the brilliance that Depp brings to all his roles (although I prefer him with his chest covered), Fichtner was absolutely marvelous here in this role.  It brought me back to my Prison Break days where I had nothing but mad respect for the actor.  I’m proud of you, William.  Oh…so where was I?  Oh yeah!  Revenge!

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I’m not really familiar with Armie Hammer’s resume of work and no offense against the guy, but he felt uncomfortable to me as the Lone Ranger.  He felt more like a sappy Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern more than anything else.  The rest of the cast was just fine.  Their acting wasn’t a problem for me.  It was just the story, the way it was told and the slow pace at which it moved, not to mention all the butchering of everything that was special about the Lone Ranger that I remember from my childhood.  Who needs a villain butcher when you have butcher screenwriters?  I’m not sure about you all, but as the credits rolled last night I have zero interest in a sequel if that should ever happen.  This one was just status quo for me.  I think I enjoyed Disney’s John Carter more last year than this one.  Maybe with old age I’m becoming more hard to please?  And although I don’t want to come across as the bad guy wishing any negative voodoo on Disney, I wish them the best of luck in recouping their funds on this one.  I’m sure they’ll do it, but besides the swooping, rowdy western and swashbuckling score courtesy of Hans Zimmer (it’s weird to hear anything that’s not dark and gloomy from the man), the majestic horses and The Back to the Future 3 like explosive third act, there’s not much to warrant a repeat visit here for me.  However, that doesn’t go for any of the Depp fans though (Mary Welms).  They’ll love it, no matter what.  I’m sure of that.  And for anyone that is brave enough to admit they loved everything about all four of Depp’s Pirates films, then do I have a movie for you.  It’s called The Lone Ranger.  Cool off and enjoy it this holiday weekend!

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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