REVIEW: “The Lone Ranger”

Lone Ranger poster

“Pirates of the Caribbean” set in the old west. It’s an unavoidable comparison. It’s also a very accurate description of Gore Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer’s “The Lone Ranger”. Johnny Depp again takes center stage and is the ringleader of this wacky and sometimes absurd action adventure. The ingredients are all here. A charismatic and eccentric lead, a fun and action-packed story model, and a filmmaking team who has experienced success before. Maybe that’s why the end result is so disappointing.

As a kid I loved the old television reruns of The Lone Ranger starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels. Well let me say that it didn’t take long for me to see the mammoth sized differences between this film and the great original material. I mean to call this film a reimagining would be a gross understatement. There is almost no similarity between these film and the classic story other than the name and some of the basic cosmetics. There is the white hat and white horse. There are silver bullets and the black masks. There are also a few familiar names and familiar plot points. But you’ll be hard pressed to find many other resemblances. Who knows, maybe that’s where the first of the film’s many missteps begins.

Lone Ranger 2

Now I wasn’t expecting this to be an ultra-serious tribute to this classic character. Again this is from the makers of “Pirates of the Caribbean”. But I also didn’t expect it to be so drastically different and so blasted silly. It starts with the Lone Ranger character himself. Armie Hammer seems completely lost at times playing a character who is a bumbling oaf from the first time we see him until the final credits. The character has good intentions but he’s a far cry from the heroic masked administrator of justice I was hoping for. Hammer’s performance doesn’t help. He struggles through a ridiculous and sometimes numbingly lame script that drags him through a plethora of slapstick and oddball humor that admittedly works on occasions. But more often than not it lands with a thud and Hammer just can’t sell it.

The nuttiness isn’t just confined to Hammer and the lead character. Johnny Depp’s Tonto is in many ways a Native American Jack Sparrow. He channels his famed pirate character in a variety of different ways and I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions. But he also has his share of ludicrous, over-the-top moments. And that can be said for the entire film. It has several eye-rolling moments that are so insanely absurd that they’re impossible to digest. But it also sharply turns in other directions. “The Lone Ranger” has some jarring tonal issues. One minute horses are standing up in trees wearing cowboy hats and the next has a character cutting out and eating a human heart. The movie is literally all over the map.

But perhaps it’s biggest sin is that it’s just so boring in the middle. It starts with a some promise and there are hints of a good story throughout the picture. But soon the film bogs down in a mire of drab and pointless plot. There’s an underwritten and poorly serviced romance. There are throwaway characters such as Helena Bonham Carter’s ivory-legged brothel head whose story would better serve on the cutting room floor. Then there is the film’s general snail paced way of telling the main story. It takes way too long and it becomes a test of endurance just to make it through the arduous 2 hours and 30 minute running time.

Lone ranger 1

But I have to say that the big finale saves the film from being a total disaster. The huge set piece is quite the spectacle and I remember perking up the moment that the William Tell Overture suddenly kicked in. The ending almost feels like its own little short film. It doesn’t feel anything like a Lone Ranger sequence and there isn’t a semblance of realism to be found. But it is insanely entertaining if you can accept its cartoonish and exaggerated approach and go with it. For me it was easily the best part of the film even with its absurdities.

There are some beautiful locations and some of the action is really good. There are moments where the wacky humor works very well. I also enjoyed seeing an assortment of my favorite supporting actors (William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Barry Pepper, and James Badge Dale) even if their roles aren’t particularly well written. But in the end “The Lone Ranger” loses itself in its overbearing insanity and bloated, uneven plot. It never feels like a western and it never knows when to end. What really stinks is that this could’ve been a really good summer movie. Instead it’s $250 million dollars worth of mediocrity and a waste of some really good talent. I may be wrong but I would think Disney would want more from such an investment.


31 thoughts on “REVIEW: “The Lone Ranger”

  1. Pingback: The Lone Ranger Review: Disney’s $250 Million Identity Crisis | Rorschach Reviews

  2. This was not really one I got excited for because my first reaction was the comparison that you could not resist making: “Pirates of the Caribbean set in the old west.”

      • Yep, the first one, then it all went downhill after that. Pity to hear that, I have some people that are excited to see it. At least I know to give it a skip should they invite me!

  3. I thought it a mottled mess. There was a cool shot, though. When the Chinese woman dripped a drop of lanolin into the tea cup and the audience saw her stirring the spoon in the cup–the bottom’s up shot was cool. And Silver was pretty. That’s about it.

    • I did like the big ending with the William Tell Overture playing. It felt like a totally separate movie and it was completely over the top. But at least it was more entertains than the rest of the film.

  4. Good review Keith. This movie was just a big, long yawnfest that never ended until I actually got in my car and blasted some Alkaline Trio. That’s when I came alive and about. Not at all during this movie.

  5. I decided to take a pass on this one, just because I’m turned off with its uproarious approach. Even from the trailer I knew I wasn’t going to like it, although I might, but I’m not going to pay for a bad day. I’m probably just going to find this in home entertainment later on. Good review!

  6. Yeah…I kind of thought so…

    I have yet to bring myself to see it–even the trailers foretold the tone of the film. I love Johnny, but somethings gotta give soon–:D

    I will still watch it–but I am not in a rush now.


    • It’s tough Ruth. I also had high hopes for this one. Honestly it’s a pretty laborious watch. The script is literally all over the map. And the tone of the film is so uneven. A tried and true formula was in place. This thing should’ve been a success.

      Oh and thanks for putting it up on Reddit! I really have to do better at returning the favor. 🙂

      • My pleasure Keith! I need to go back submitting Reddit stuff, and yes, I always welcome ppl submitting my post 😉

  7. I knew this was going to tank. I asked all my neices and nephews if they wanted to see it and they looked at me like I had three heads. Same thing happened with that John Carter movie. Disney needs all-ages to make a blockbuster hit. Us older folk would rather see the originals, the young ‘uns have no interest what-so-ever in Westerns, (for them it feels like History class in school), so all that is left is some die hard Depp fans. Only 29 million in the opening weekend, some one will be fired!

    • This thing actually did worse than John Carter. And John Carter didn’t have a star like Johnny Depp dangling in front of the audience. I actually thought John Carter was a pretty decent movie. It’s certainly science-fiction lite but I enjoyed it. For me this was a much worse movie.

  8. Maybe I’m just being vindictive (but then, vindictiveness is second-nature to an Osage), but I’m getting a fair amount of glee over seeing the thrashing this is getting almost everywhere. 😀

  9. Allow me to retort. This movie entertained me for two plus hours. It is long, the middle could be trimmed and some characters could be left out entirely. On the other hand, Armie Hammer came across as a tenderfoot not an imbecile. He often gave as good as he got and I thought he was more straight man than punch line. Tonto is played both more seriously and more humorously than we would traditionally expect, but I did not catch Depp winking at the camera, instead he brought his oddball perspective to the part. I understand the tone issues that have been mentioned here, but that seems to be an issue with just about every summer style blockbuster. They try to play the drama to pull us into the story and then lather on the humor to make it entertaining. As long as the characters are consistent, I think it works. The two villains were never played for laughs. So I did not find them any more problematic than Captain Barbosa. The opening and closing set pieces are absurd, over the top, and an absolute blast from an entertainment perspective. I love the Lone Ranger character, but it is not literature, it is pulp story telling and this movie seems to understand that. Everyone is different and taste can be subjective, but the trashing it is getting from the 2/3s of the comments above from people who have not seen it is lemming like. If you saw it and did not like it, that is your perspective but let me encourage anyone who thought they might enjoy the film to give it a try before you dismiss it. Forget the movie issue and remember what a summer movie is supposed to be, FUN. I thought this movie was.

    • I thought lacked the fun that I want from a summer movie. I found the middle to be overly long, flat, poorly structured, and most importantly boring. Very little worked here which I feel spread through word of mouth like a wildfire.

  10. Nice review. I haven’t seen this and I’m in two minds as to whether I should … part of me just wants to see how bad it actually is!

  11. Pingback: » Movie Review – The Lone Ranger Fernby Films

  12. Pingback: » Movie Review – Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl Fernby Films

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