Saturday, July 20, 2013
The Lone Ranger (2013)
**This review contains spoilers**
In 1869, district attorney John Reid (Armie Hammer) returns to his hometown of Colby, Texas via train ride. On the same train, a nasty and emotionless cannibal outlaw named Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) is being held captive, as he awaits his execution in Colby. In the same car, Tonto (Johnny Depp) is shackled next to Butch. Eventually, Butch escapes the train with the help of his gang, and a hidden gun underneath the floorboards. Tonto escapes to go after Butch, and with John’s help, both men pursue Butch and his gang.
Butch and his gang escape, Tonto disappears, and John reunites with his brother and Colby Ranger, Dan (James Badge Dale) and his son, Danny (Bryant Prince) in Colby. Awkward feelings from a past relationship with Dan’s wife, Rebecca (Ruth Wilson) cause some tension between the two, and Rebecca tries to ignore and fight off advances from the local railroad tycoon, Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson).
Vowing to bring Butch and his gang to justice, Dan puts together a team to go after Butch, and he deputizes John by giving him their father’s old Texas Ranger badge. But Dan, John, and the rest of the team are ambushed by Butch’s gang, after a trader from within the group lures them into a trap. Butch kills Dan by eating his heart, and John is left for dead with the rest of the corpses.
John is resurrected back to life with the help of a ritual from a returning Tonto, and a white spirit horse. John agrees to team up with Tonto, so he can capture Butch, his gang, and the traitor. Using Tonto’s black mask and advice, John assumes the identity of The Lone Ranger. With help from Red Harrington (Helena Bonham Carter), the madam of a brothel, John and Tonto uncover a railroad conspiracy connected to a scheme involving tons of silver on Indian land, and John learns more about Tonto’s motivations for vengeance on Butch after discovering the truth about Tonto’s deadly mistake as a child.
As expected, Johnny Depp delivers another enjoyable kooky and eccentric performance, providing the most laughs as Tonto. I guess you can say the same thing about Helena Bonham Carter’s Red, but she’s limited to sporadic appearances in this one. But yeah, more often than not, you have to expect some weirdo Tim Burton-esque character from Depp and Carter, so it’s not too surprising.
Anyway, Armie Hammer is a good foil for Depp’s rebellious and risktaking Tonto, as the stuck-up lawman, who does everything by the book. Fichtner provides the second best performance for my money. He’s genuinely evil, as the scoundrelly devil outlaw, but his character is undermined by an OBVIOUS twist (more on that later). Tom Wilkinson’s Latham Cole is kind of dull because Cole is your typical greedy American businessman, who’s drunk with power, and of course he wants more money. And no major complaints about Ruth Wilson and Bryant Prince, and and it’s not fair to judge James Badge Dale, because his character doesn’t last long.
Butch was the right primary antagonist….until Latham Cole is revealed as the mastermind behind the silver/railroad scheme. Butch was nasty, vile, and ruthless. I mean, the guy eats body parts to prove his toughness. To make matters worse, the “twist” (if you can even call it that) was so freakin’ obvious. You could EASILY see it coming throughout the movie, and the lazy foreshadowing didn’t help anything. So instead of giving us something different, The Lone Ranger settles for the cliché “greedy, rich white businessman, who’s blinded by power, and his never ending obsession for more money” character. Yeah, I can understand the Cole character being the perfect tie-in for the backdrop of the story involving the oppression and genocide of Native Americans in the old west, but come on. Let’s not kid ourselves here. The Lone Ranger wasn’t trying to be an artsy action/drama. No, this is a popcorn flick.
And speaking of obvious twists, I was glad they didn’t throw in a “Surprise! Danny is actually John’s son!” twist. Throughout the movie, I had an uneasy feeling they were actually going to do this, because Rebecca and John had a thing for each other at one time. The Lone Ranger was loaded clichés, predictable twists, and sappy emotional moments, so they didn’t need to pile John being Danny’s real father on top of that.
Red’s prosthetic gun and leg trick loses its “wow factor” after the first time, and my god they could’ve shaved some time off of the exhausting two hours and twenty-nine minutes runtime. Just when you think The Lone Ranger might be over, it goes on and on for another thirty or forty minutes. Still, with all that said, I enjoyed The Lone Ranger. The entire film is loaded with lots of thrilling, creative, and fun over the top action sequences. Hammer and Depp shared some great chemistry together as the hilarious odd couple, and when it’s all said and done, The Lone Ranger is an entertaining action/comedy, with some good laughs along the way. Again, trim some of the fat off the bloated runtime, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go with a higher score.