The Lone Ranger
The Lone Ranger, 2013, USA
I went into this film with very tempered expectations. As long as it kept me entertained I’d be satisfied. Sadly, it failed to do even that. I’m super disappointed because I was excited for this film. While I’ve never watched the television show, I was familiar enough with The Lone Ranger to be interested, and the fact that Johnny Depp was playing Tonto and Armie Hammer was playing The Lone Ranger was enough to excite me.
After being attacked by the evil Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), John Reid (Hammer) is found by Tonto (Depp). Both men have scores to settle with Butch and team up. At Tonto’s insistence, John dons a mask, thus becoming The Lone Ranger, and together they ride off in search of Butch and his gang.
So what did this film want to be? A buddy comedy? A serious action movie? It was so all over the place it wasn’t even funny. It was filled to the brim with action sequences – many of them being completely unnecessary and baffling. It’s like director Gore Verbinski determined that he had to keep every single shot recorded and put it into the film in order to justify the inflated budget of the film. “Look, Disney, we’re not wasting money – it’s in the film!” Ugh.
I saw what could have been a decent film in The Lone Ranger – but at least 45 minutes of the 149 minute run time would have to be cut. The inflated cast of characters would have had to be cut too: at least two supporting characters could have been removed entirely to improve the flow of the film.
But do you want to know the single worst thing about The Lone Ranger, and the reason I knew I’d be in for a rough ride as soon as the film began? The stupid framing device. It is, without a doubt, the stupidest framing device I’ve ever seen. A very elderly Tonto is working a Wild West exhibit at a carnival in 1933 and tells the story to a young patron. Depp is 50 years old, and the bulk of the film takes place in 1869, 54 years earlier! Even if we assume Tonto is meant to be 40 years old, that means that Tonto is 94 in 1933! While Depp looks almost unrecognizable in the make-up he wears to age him, it just doesn’t work. It was poorly thought out, and I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out the point of the narrative device. Could it, possibly, be a way to imply that maybe the events of the film didn’t really happen, at least not as described, and that The Lone Ranger was merely an interesting legend? Nope – too smart for this film. All I know is that they could have cut a good 15 minutes of useless narrative by removing this plot line.
I don’t blame either Depp or Hammer for this mess. I thought they did the best they could with the material they had to work with. Hammer was great as a naive and good-hearted idealist, and Depp’s Tonto was truly the brains of the operation. Depp’s goal with Tonto was “to try to right the wrongs of the past”, so it’s a shame the character was stuck with such a crappy movie. But I didn’t have any personal misgivings with the way he portrayed the character, and I like that he was the leader of the two of them.
I blame Verbinski, the screenwriters, and the film editors for this travesty. I want to sit them all down in front of the computer and re-edit this movie for them. Don’t bother with The Lone Ranger. Even Depp and Hammer couldn’t save it.