‘The Lone Ranger’ is akin to spending $200 million on a cowboy themed birthday party but forgetting all the fun. The film is a complete tonal disaster and it’s one of the goofiest attempts at trying to execute a western with an action/adventure aesthetic.
Set in 1869, a Native American warrior, Tonto (Johnny Depp), teams up a lawyer named John Reid (Armie Hammer) who is seeking revenge on the outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) for murdering his brother.
It’s apparent that something is not quite right in ‘The Lone Ranger’ when throughout the 149 minute running time a horse is the best thing in the film. Yes, Silver the sacred white horse is a magnificent and quirky presence amongst the calamity. If there is an Oscar shaped like a horseshoe, Silver would win it. So it’s clear that director Gore Verbinski is a good horse whisperer but he just can’t get the chemistry to work with Depp and Hammer. Depp is starting to become like Verbinski’s own personal living Barbie Doll: we’ve had pirate Depp and now it’s time for Comanche Depp. Tonto is essentially a sober version of Captain Jack Sparrow and Depp nails the kooky but in control aspect of a character once again, but the act is getting stale. Hammer never properly fits the heroic saddle and is caught floundering between clowning around and trying to play it serious when he action demands it. Most of the support cast are wasted: Fichtner festers and snarls while Tom Wilkinson plays a wealthy railway tycoon who only ever seems to be giving speeches which feature large plot details.
Verbinski is obviously a fan of Westerns (see: ‘Rango’) and there are nods to great films of the genre with a homestead attack inspired by ‘The Searchers’ and an appearance of Monument Valley from, well, everything! The overall experience though seems more like a tribute to the western elements of ‘Back to the Future Part III’. Verbinski goes hard with the film’s comedic elements but it’s thrown into disarray when the villainous Cavendish eats a man’s heart out of his chest while he’s still alive. The continuous shift in tone is jarring and the film never finds an identity that sticks. An absolutely bonkers action finale featuring a runaway train almost saves the day, although it’s helped massively by the famous music synonymous with The Lone Ranger, the William Tell Overture, and it works to elevate excitement levels.
Did I mention the horse was great?
The Popcorn Junkie