July 10, 2013 -- The latest incarnation of the Lone Ranger (movies with Lone Ranger in the title date back to the 1930s) is a big budget comic action film with dramatic and romantic elements all mixed together in ways that don't really work. Of all these diverse elements, probably the comedy works best, but that doesn't mix well with all those other elements.
In this particular vision of the story, Tonto (played by Johnny Depp) is elevated from a sidekick to star status and the Lone Ranger (played by Armie Hammer of “The Social Network”) is more of a sidekick in most of the scenes. While Tonto is a Comanche warrior bent on revenge against the villain Butch Cavendish (played by a barely recognizable William Fichtner of “The Dark Knight”). The Lone Ranger (AKA John Reid) also wants revenge against Cavendish, who killed his brother.
The Lone Ranger is more of a city slicker in this story, a lawyer with naive notions of the rule of law in the wild west. There is a funny scene early in the movie when Tonto tries in vain to get the “spirit horse,” Silver (in addition to everything else, there is a supernatural element in the story) to revive John Reid's brother, Dan Reid (played by James Badge Dale of “Iron Man 3”). Tonto wants Dan revived instead of Dan's wimpy brother John because Dan is the real action hero. John Reid's naiveté is another factor making him more of a sidekick than a real action hero.
In addition to making the Lone Ranger a clueless sidekick, the story is told awkwardly in flashbacks, by Tonto, as an old man, speaking to a young boy in a circus sideshow many years later. I suppose this was done to try to appeal to younger audiences, but this storytelling device fragmented and halted the story every time it was employed.
There is also a hint of romance in the story with an attraction between the Lone Ranger and his brother's wife, Rebecca Reid (Ruth Wilson of “Anna Karenina”). Another prominent female character is a one-legged prostitute, Red Harrington (Helena Bonham Carter of “Les Misérables”). Red would be an interesting character if she had something to do in the story besides shoot the gun hidden inside her fake leg. In addition to Cavendish, other villains in the story, Fuller and Cole, are played by Barry Pepper (“Snitch”) and Tom Wilkinson (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”) respectively.
More complications in the story arise with a hidden cache of silver, a tragic mistake by Tonto as a boy, a hostile corporate takeover, the Comanches framed for a treaty violation, a U.S. Cavalry officer bribed by a corrupt corporate official, the sudden appearance of more Gatling guns than there were in the whole state of Texas in 1869 and a whole slew of other anachronisms turn this movie into a total mess.
This movie does have its moments (mostly thanks to Depp and the stirring William Tell Overture) and there are some funny scenes here and there, but largely this is a train wreck, and there is one of those in the movie too. It does have some entertainment value, but what is most notable in this movie are all the missed opportunities to make this a better film. This movie rates a C.
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