REVIEW – ‘The Lone Ranger’ is a big, loud, underachieving movie that consistently frustrates.

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The Lone Ranger has been a cursed production from the very beginning, plagued with script re-writes that at one point included the supernatural (werewolves!) and filming delays due to budget concerns – almost as if the film didn’t want to be made. Many may wish that it hadn’t, because the film squanders most of the talent and potential with a rudder-less ship that is loud, long and completely schizophrenic.

[pullquote_left]The film squanders most of the talent and potential with a rudder-less ship that is loud, long and completely schizophrenic.[/pullquote_left]Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp certainly give it their all and have undeniable chemistry in this remake of the old west vengeance tale based on the classic radio serials. Johnny is certainly in full “Depp-ing” mode as Tonto, and fans of his awkward comedic work in Pirates of the Caribbean and Dark Shadows will have plenty to enjoy with him in the film, but I feel like that aspect of his career has now worn out its welcome a bit. Armie Hammer is an actor I’ve pegged as the next superstar for awhile – he has the lovable bumbling hero role down solid with the charisma of a Nathan Fillion or a young Harrison Ford, and while he leaves it all up on the screen by the film’s end his enthusiasm and charm aren’t enough to overcome the bad writing and mess of character he’s given to portray.

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[pullquote_right]The film has quite a bit of humor, some it really works well, which makes it so frustrating when there are stretches that either didn’t need to be made humorous or were done so with poor results.[/pullquote_right]The plot (or lack thereof) is pretty inconsequential, revolving around John Reid/The Lone Ranger trying to avenge his fallen brother with the help of the unhinged Native American Tonto by bringing Butch Cavendish (the excellently creepy William Fichtner) to justice. I have no issue with a thin plot around an icon like The Lone Ranger because the audience is already sold on the character and will buy in. But somehow, director Gore Verbinski manages to stretch the film into two hours and twenty-nine minutes (they couldn’t squeeze in one more to round it out at thirty?) including a pretty awful framing device that interrupts the flow and even breaks the fourth wall a few times.

The film has quite a bit of humor, and some it really works well, which makes it so frustrating when there are stretches that either didn’t need to be made humorous or were done so with poor results. On the action front, the scenes are also pretty impressive and filmed on-location with a plethora of breathtaking western scenery that feels very epic and old-school Disney, but unfortunately there are more than a few noticeable CG effects that had to be added to pull off some of the more ambitious sections, which take away from the old-fashioned feel.

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A sure sign of the re-write madness going on within the film is how disjointed the characters and storytelling play out. Most of the characters are dead serious, but The Lone Ranger and Tonto are constantly stumbling through the adventure by dumb luck moments and out of character heroism, while characters like Helena Bonham Carter’s Red seem to exist only to look interesting. By the time the film’s finale kicks in and the unmistakable theme song blares in earnest for the first time, it’s tough to discern if you’re supposed to giggle at the silliness or get goosebumps of excitement.

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[pullquote_left]The Lone Ranger‘s silver bullet misses its target.[/pullquote_left]Everything adds up to a film that makes you roll your eyes more times than you’ll laugh, and look at your watch more times than sit on the edge of your seat. Depp merges his previous comedic hero roles for more of the same and Armie Hammer gives it his all, but the tone and pace are so scattered the film can’t find its footing. It might be worth a look on DVD/Bluray, but The Lone Ranger‘s silver bullet misses its target while bumbling away a ton of potential and a fantastic ensemble cast.

 

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