The Lone Ranger is ultimately a void; lacking in practically anything that makes a film enjoyable, be it good acting, an exciting or meaningful story or intelligent direction… and at two and a half hours, that is a long time to watch something with no redeeming factor. Instead the final product, which Disney figured would be a good idea to release is perhaps one of the most overly violent, uncomfortably racist and poorly made films for a very long time. Whilst the journey of the Gore Verbinski & Jerry Bruckheimer’s production was filled with delays, acting troubles and money issues, it seems that no lessons were learnt along the way and in fact the final product was shoddily put together and will ultimately do no favours for anyone involved.
Based upon the story of the fictional character, the ‘Lone Ranger’, a masked ex-Texas Ranger who, with his Indian friend Tonto, fights injustice in the American Old West. The characters first appearance was in 1933, on radio station WXYZ. Since then, there had been 2,956 radio episodes, countless film adaptations and a television series that aired for eight seasons between 1949 and 1957. Yet, despite everything that came before it and all the inspiration those making this film could have gained, it appears they ignored pretty much everything and made a sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean in the Wild West.
Of course it’s common sense to assume this film would have happened; Disney have perfected the Verbinski, Bruckheimer, Depp trifecta, who over the course of 10 years have seemingly lost momentum, suspense and apparently talent but they wanted to prove they could make a film outside of the The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. So to The Lone Ranger, which had so much potential; it could have been made with a strong sense of nostalgia for those who remember the original series and it could have brought in so many younger fans who would newly discover the story but instead, this production may not only harm those who made the film but possibly the legacy of the story itself.
The story starts by telling us about John Reid (Armie Hammer), a rather untraditional lawyer who rides with his brother and fellow Texas Rangers in pursuit of the notorious Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner). During a violent battle with Cavendish and his men, the rangers are left for dead, including both the brothers. Yet, mysteriously John Reid is rescued by the Plains Indian, Comanche tribesman Tonto (Johnny Depp). Tonto offers to help him bring Cavendish to justice for the murder of his brother. Becoming a reluctant masked rider with a rather difficult partner, Reid pursues the criminal against all obstacles. However, John and Tonto learn that Cavendish is only part of a far greater conspiracy and the pair must fight those who not only break the law but also decide it.
The biggest shame is that Armie Hammer isn’t yet big enough to carry a big Hollywood production alone as he is the only actor in the film that appears to have any skill whatsoever. Whilst it is pretty clear from the start that he is not too comfortable in this action based role, from the way that he awkwardly moves to his manoeuvres with other characters, it is clear that he is trying his hardest. He manages to carry of his lines from the poorly written script like an actor who truly believes in the success of the film and is certainly the most emotive; showing real tension in the dark moments. Furthermore, he is also the only actor who appears to understand how to tell the difference between a comedic moment and a dramatic moment because he has a real talent for timing and knowing the situation. Unfortunately, for too much of the film Hammer is hankered by Johnny Depp’s outright mess of a portrayal of Tonto. Whilst Tonto is meant to be a secondary character in the story, Verbinski is much more interested in him and this puts the entire film out of sync. Whilst the film is called The Lone Ranger, it becomes the Depp show.
Depp, once again, manages with all his might to master his Keith Richards impression, which really lost it’s charm about eight years ago except this time, he wears a bird on his head. Furthermore, whatever persuaded the casting director that Depp would be the right actor for this Native American character was surely on another planet – it is outright offensive to even consider that this casting is conducive to a good outcome. Depp spends most of the film talking pigeon language, which nowadays is just offensive and immature, making the audience even more uncomfortable. On top of that, he just looks bored and has completely forgotten how to portray emotion – gone are the days of Edward Scissorhands or Fear and Loathing, now there just doesn’t even seem a point.
The rest of the cast at this point, don’t even really warrant comment because there is not one single member of the cast that stands out in any of the scenes. Fichtner plays his role completely over the top and Helena Bonham Carter felt like such a non-character, that you can forget she was even in the film!
Another huge failure of the film is it’s representation of violence – the film is by Disney and it stars Johnny Depp. Plenty of children are going to be seeing this film, with or without their parents, but ultimately this is an overly violent, blood bath that really shows very insignificant consequence to those who utilise violence. There are gun explosions literally every five minutes and the body count of the film is pretty much on par with anything Quentin Tarantino has ever done. The idea of the original Lone Ranger was about justice and following a strict moral code, but it seems beyond this production to have even hinted at a single piece of morality.
In a summer filled with average blockbusters, The Lone Ranger has managed to go above and beyond by showing what can happen when lots of money is pumped into a very pointless vehicle. It is a shame to think that as Depp gets older, this is what will litter his filmography but it seems that there is no turning back. It is long, shocking (and not for the right reasons) and possibly the worst film to have ever beared the Disney name.