- CAMPUS LIFE
The Lone Ranger dominated radio, movies, and television throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Every child and most adults knew the story of John Reid, the only surviving member of his Texas Ranger outfit following a cowardly ambush by "Butch" Cavendish and his gang. Joined by his faithful Indian companion Tonto and astride his white horse Silver, the Lone Ranger brought fairness and justice to the frontier. Over 30 year since the last horrendous movie effort, director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean, Rango) and stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer (Winklevoss twins in Social Network) attempt to resuscitate the dormant icon in the uneven, bombastic but oddly watchable Lone Ranger.
The schizophrenic script by Justin Haythe (Snitch) and Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) follows largely the accepted origins from the previous versions of the character but this time recounted in 1933 by an elderly Tonto (Depp) to a young fan of the Lone Ranger. The disjointed story, set some sixty years in past, follows the logic and failing memory of its unreliable narrator. Sadly this potential cleverness, like most of the picture, fails to achieve its promise and ultimately falls into a predictable mess.
Unlike previous filmed incarnations, pretty boy Hammer ably portrays his Ranger as a bumbling dullard. Tonto actually supplies the tactical and combative brains of the team. This might appear as a new and interesting wrinkle, if not for Joe R. Lansdale's and Timothy Truman's 1995 innovative graphic novel The Lone Ranger and Tonto. Not only did they offer a similar dynamic for the pair, but Lansdale and Truman delivered the concept in a far superior tale.
Depp's continuing rehashing of Jack Sparrow grows old. His Tonto is yet another portrayal of his signature character, this time with white face paint and set in the West. The masterful Depp performances from Donnie Brasco and Ed Wood remain just a distant memory.
Perhaps the movie's finest performance comes from the unnamed horse who played Silver. His often inane scenes were only made palatable by his uncanny ability to emote his unspoken lines.
The ludicrous and over the top action further mars the overlong picture. As does the overuse of the classic William Tell Overture. At first a welcome nod to the past, the Lone Ranger theme like much of this becomes tedious.
Despite these abundant flaws, Verbinski and his team surprisingly managed to make the Lone Ranger oddly enjoyable and fun. Just be sure to lower your expectations and leave all common sense at the door.