It’s a 2-hour version of Cowboys and Indians, with Jack Sparrow thrown into the mix somehow.
Once upper-class lawyer John Reid (Armie Hammer) shows up in Texas, hell breaks loose. A known murderer and criminal, Butch Cavendish (David Finchter), escapes from custody; an Indian by the name of Tonto (Johnny Depp) is thrown into custody; and his brother (James Badge Dale) is all-of-a-sudden killed by Cavendish and his league of fellows murderers. Needless to say, Reid finds this killing as a perfect tool to not only put Cavendish away for good, but get a bit of revenge on his own time. However, Tonto somehow escapes from prison and begins to follow Reid around, calling him “the chosen one” or, for lack of a better term, “The Lone Ranger.” There’s the title. Happy!?!
Right from the get-go, it seemed so obvious that everybody involved was trying to make this like another Pirates movie, but I still didn’t want to believe it. Something, somewhere, told me that it wasn’t just made strictly for money and to make it into a big franchise, it was made out of tenderness, love, and care, as well as for the sake of entertaining the hell out of people. Surely Johnny Depp, hell, Gore Verbinski is better than that, right?!?!
Well, I sure as hell was wrong and unbeknownst to me: it’s exactly what I thought it would be, a total money-grabber.
That’s a very sad reality too, because this movie seemed like it was destined for some real, honest fun from beginning to end. Not only has the Lone Ranger character been one that’s been begging for a movie-adaptation, but also seemed like it could have only been done justice, if Verbinski was in fact attached to making it. Problem is, what seemed almost irreplaceable, actually ends up killing any sort of steam or momentum for this flick, and turns into a bit of a bore. Never expected that to happen with this movie, especially since the first 10-15 minutes are fun and exciting, but once the plot kicks in and Verbinski decides to get serious on all of our simple-minded asses; things begin to get too dark, too quick.
It’s almost like Verbinski loved this material so much, that he actually some actual racial-conflict between Tonto and all of the other characters surrounding him. Little does he know that it’s just a silly movie, made for kids, as well as the adults who will most likely get roped into taking them to this. For the kids, they may have a good time, depending on how much they like Johnny Depp, being Johnny Depp, but the adults may be a little distraught with what to do here. See, this flick can be all about fun, games, and all of the goofy things that the character of Tonto can, and most likely will do, but there are times throughout the duration of this movie where it gets pretty disturbing, pretty quick, and it’s tonally messed-up. One scene will have Reid and Tonto goofing-around about why he should wear the mask, and then the next scene will have Cavendish eat out some dudes heart and wipe the blood off of his face, just 2 seconds after performing the act of cannibalism. Yep, pretty fucked-up, and not just for a kids movie: but for a fucking Disney movie!
Beware on that one, adults.
And even despite the odd-tone this movie seems to have throughout the whole, 2-and-a-half hours, the movie doesn’t even seem to be hitting the marks it aims for more than often. It rarely ever had me laugh, even as the flick strained so hard to make me; the plot is a bit too heavy and features more than enough exposition for any Western-type of thriller; and the heart of the story, gets lost under unintentional racism. If people don’t remember too fondly already, back in the day when this flick was getting ready to be made and whatnot, people were already pretty pissed-off by the fact that Depp, an American actor, would be playing Tonto, a Native American. Obviously any Native American in their right mind would be ticked about this, but knowing the type of humble dude that Depp is, he made it clear that he wouldn’t take the role unless there was respect and care for this character. Because if you think about it: Tonto is the most-definitive, Native American character in film, so if you screw him up, you screwed yourself up basically.
Problem is, the movie screws it up big-time and it’s so noticeable. Not only does Depp run around like a fool the whole time as Tonto, but they make Tonto out to be some snidely, jackass-of-a-person that fucked up everything and everyone he knew because he was a dumb-ass, Native American. The movie also presents some mean looks at the Native American tribes, more than likely, they’re just flat-out cruel, but the treatment of the character Tonto pissed me off because this dude could have been pretty fun to watch and bad-ass for that matter, but just wasn’t. He was always off-kilter, always acting strange, and never allowed to do anything else other than goofy faces. That’s it.
And yes, even for an actor like Depp; it’s a bit too much. Granted, at times, Depp does seem to be the best, freakin’ thing about this movie for awhile, but once the act runs dry and he, and Verbinski pull out whatever type of “humorous material” they can find in their artistic-asses, then we all begin to realize that this is just another Jack Sparrow performance, used in the form of a Native American, and not a savvy-pirate. Depp can play any type of bonkers characters like this in his sleep, but at times, it literally does seem like he’s sleeping or just in another form of autopilot. Tonto seems smart, like he has a way of making out any situation, just by the look and feel in the air, but here, he’s played up simply for hijinx and comedic-relief. Nothing new, or even remotely funny.
However, it’s not bad to make Tonto the lead character if you’re going to give him something interesting or cool to do, but they don’t even do that. They make the main star of the show, The Lone Ranger, more of the sidekick and that’s all because Hammer isn’t as big of a name as Depp is. It’s all true in the world of Hollywood, but that’s maybe a bit too cynical, especially because it ruins the flick of any promise it ever seemed to have. Hammer is fine as the Lone Ranger, has a bit of wit and charm to his act that goes a long way, but all gets bogged-down once Tonto takes over and it becomes “The Johnny Depp Show” after awhile. Hell, I’d probably watch that show too, if I had the chance, but not for a near, 2-and-a-half hour movie! That, to me, is just overkill! It’s even worse because Hammer seems like a nice fit for the role; he’s just never given the chance to fly with it. He’s practically the side-kick.
But at least the rest of the cast is bearable to watch, right? Well, not really. If there was anybody in this cast who seemed like they really had a grip on what movie they were apart of and what was supposed to be used to make it a fun, movie-going experience for everyone, it was William Fichnter as Butch Cavendish. Fichnter is a villain in almost anything that he does, but with a role like this, you can totally see why since he’s a slimy dirtball that you never feel an ounce of sympathy for, no matter how much he may perk-up once the violence and the threat of death gets thrown onto him. Just goes to show you that Fichnter should be in more stuff, even if it is with “Mutant” Turtles.
Aside from Fichnter’s show-stealing, scenery-chewing, everybody else is pretty dull and uneventful to watch, as if they were just ready for the healthy paycheck they were about to receive. Ruth Wilson is a bit of a bore as Reid’s sister-in-law, who just so happens to be his old-school crush, that never became a reality; Tom Wilkinson’s role is obvious from the start, even if the guy is a champ at playing it, before he starts to delve into over-the-top theatrics, made for a totally different movie with a higher-care for characters and development; and Helena Bonham Carter, despite being heavily-advertised like she’s a big part of the story, is in it for maybe 5 or 6 minutes, and that’s just a untrained guestimation of mine. It’s probably less, now that I think about it. Oh, and Barry Pepper! What the fuck happened to your face, dude?!??!
Consensus: The Lone Ranger may feature just as much disdain from parents, as much as it may feature pleasure and happiness from the kids that are bound to see it, because while this remains a rather joyless-experience, rest assured, the movie will still make millions of dollars at the box office, and may even be granted a sequel, in hopes that Verbinski, Depp, and co., score the next franchise hit they oh so desire.
3.5 / 10 = Crapola!!