Tuesday, July 9, 2013


The Lone Ranger

Directed by Gore Verbinski
Written by Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio

     Disney's big budget blockbuster The Lone Ranger is a failed, formulaic film that is void of any depth in storytelling and a Johnny Depp performance that has just about run its course. The film is a mess. It is textbook in the making of a film that has little appreciation for the value of a good narrative and dialogue and focuses on supposed crowd pleasing explosions and ridiculous, fantastical feats of action and lame humor. The film does not work as a western or an action-comedy and thoroughly annoys as the two and a half hour run time seems to take forever to reach.
     Directed by Gore Verbinski, who also directed the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, has fallen off course with this bloated, $200 million plus budgeted summer blockbuster. The main issue, besides the long running time, is the fiscal way of attempting to balance the western genre and appreciation for the original television program of the same name, with the audience friendly comedy and over-the-top action. There are scenes in the big climatic train chase that are just funny in the absurd way. The idea that any of these outlandish sequences would actually happen, the Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer) jumping his horse onto a moving train and Tonto (Johnny Depp) crossing trains with a wooden ladder are too stupid and boring for me to appreciate. It is definitely not John Ford's Stagecoach or Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch. The film is not meant to be though and it is suppose to please the masses and bring in the money.
     The problem is also that there is no appreciation for quality filmmaking but just silly attempts at humor and massive set piece driven action sequences to appease a movie going audience that is void of anything that has importance in cinema. It is not cinema, it is blockbuster mania where we do not have to think or draw your own conclusions. Film in America is getting to low place where dollar signs are more important than quality and Disney's The Lone Ranger is a prime example of this steady machine that does not seem to slowing down.
     The film has themes of revenge and justice, which ring true in any classic western. Armie Hammer plays John Reid, who becomes the Lone Ranger, an educated man of the law who is seeking justice for the murder of his Texas Ranger brother Dan Reid (James Badge Dale). He encounters is estranged ex-girlfriend Rebecca Reid (Ruth Wilson), who is married to Dan and her young son Danny (Bryant Prince). The ruthless, cannibalistic killer Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) is the man they are in pursuit of and is the murderer of Dan. The search for justice is aided with the help of a Native American Tonto (Johnny Depp) who creates the buddy duo with John and also has his own personal reasons for hunting down Cavendish. The story goes from there with weak twists and horrible flashbacks where an over 100 year-old Tonto retells the story of himself and The Lone Ranger's adventures in San Francisco as part of a carnival. This retelling of the story adds little to the film in that it just makes the film much longer then it needed to be.
     Leading into the performances in the film, casting Johnny Depp as Tonto gave the sense that Disney was already putting him front and center ahead of the Lone Ranger. He evidently is in a good financial relationship with Disney. Armie Hammer, who was excellent in David Fincher's The Social Network, is a bit boring and way to clean cut to be a character in the Old West. He just does not bring the comedic balance that the film was going for with Johnny Depp and he just felt out of place and unbelievable throughout the whole film. Johnny Depp's stick of quirky, off-beat likable heroes has run out of fun and desire. He plays Tonto with the same wit and humor as his Jack Sparrow in the Pirates films but something else needs to be in there. It is very much as I had seen this too many times before. I miss the Depp of Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, not a great film but visually amazing and a guilty pleasure film, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The range is still there but this blockbuster, Disney binge he is on has taken him away from quality films that matter. Money speaks.
     In the end, The Lone Ranger is another in a long line of action packed, Joe Popcorn escapist filmmaking. The characters are not written with any depth or concern, but instead the focus is on silly plot twists that are completely redone over and over and explosions and ridiculous action set pieces. The film is a boring mess and contains Johnny Depp in a performance that is at times funny but has just been seen too many times since he first went to mega blockbuster status as Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Disney, Depp and Verbinski seem more concerned with dollar signs then anything else.

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