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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Lone Ranger | Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter, William Fichtner | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn

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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE

The Lone Ranger

“The Lone Ranger” barely resembles the legendary fictional character I remember watching on TV as a kid. Call this new movie version a re-imagined, reworked, retelling, or reboot of the Legendary Masked Man and his Native American sidekick, Tonto, for a new generation of movie goers, but the fact is the long awaited, highly anticipated Wild West adventure is a major disappointment that runs way too long.

During his guest appearances on late night talk shows to promote the film prior to its release, Johnny Depp who stars as Tonto, stated that since childhood he has been bothered by how the Native American character has always been misrepresented, both in the TV series and films. Playing Tonto gave him “the opportunity to flip that cliché on its head and bring respect back to the dignified people”, he said.

As portrayed by Depp, Tonto is definitely not just the sidekick and the historical plight and mistreatment of Native Americans does figure into the scenario.  Tonto is the one with the brains, while The Lone Ranger comes across as a well meaning, but clueless, bumbling nitwit, playing straight man to the wise cracking, deadpan Tonto.
 
Told from Tonto's point of view, the story (by co-writers Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio and Justin Haythe) begins at a carnival in 1933 San Francisco. A young boy dressed as a cowboy and wearing a Long Ranger mask enters a Wild West exhibition and stops in front of a display titled “Nobel Savage” featuring what appears to be a mannequin of a very old Indian (Johnny Depp, head to toe in wrinkle filled face and body prosthetics). Suddenly the Indian (no surprise, it's Tonto) shows signs of life and begins to speak, recounting his story of adventures with the Lone Ranger, to the wide eyed attention of the kid.

The film may be titled The Lone Ranger, but the story is more about Tonto, than the transformation of John Reid, a timid, clueless lawyer, who didn't believe in carrying a gun, into the Masked Man.
 
Flashback to 1869.  After surviving an ambush led by the maniacal outlaw Butch Cavendish (a superb, William Fichtner in snarling, super creepy mode) who killed his brother, Dan, (James Badge Dale) and ripped out his heart, newly deputized County DA John Reid is revived by a legendary Spirit Horse (whom he later names Silver) and nursed back to health by Tonto, a Comanche warrior adorned in white face paint with black markings and a dead crow as a hat.

At first, the duo don't get along, but a common desire to seek justice for different reasons has the polar opposites joining forces. Let's get real and call it what it is, revenge.  Before heading out on their mission, Tonto gives John a silver bullet and a mask that he is told to wear because the man John seeks thinks he is dead. For his own good, he must “keep it that way”.  “Who was that masked man” is then replaced by the more comical “What's with the mask?

In their travels the duo come in contact with the madam of a brothel, Red Harrington (a bosom heaving, Helena Bonham Carter, who doesn't get enough screen time), fitted with one artificial leg made of ivory that is armed with a fully loaded gun. She, too, has a hate on for Butch and would love to see him dead.

Meanwhile, a power hungry, greedy railroad boss, Lathem Cole (Tom Wilkinson) heads a team of workers building a transcontinental railroad that will run though Indian settlements. Not only is he up to no good when it comes to business practices, the devious Cole has more than a friendly interest in Dan's widow, Rebecca (Ruth Wilson) and her young son (Bryant Prince). Never mind that there is budding romance between Reid and Rebecca, although that really doesn't go anywhere.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski are hoping to repeat the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise by infusing several similar elements from the blockbuster series, which in this instance, doesn't work to its advantage.  Depp's Tonto brings to mind the look and quirky behavior of his Jack Sparrow character, complete with amusing one liners.
Hammer, on the other hand, is too bland as John Reid/The Lone Ranger. I also have a bone to pick regarding Hammer's pearly white teeth. I found them distracting and anachronistic, considering the time period. Come on, now. No one in the days of the Old West, ever walked around with such a perfect, almost blinding, white smile.

Instead of good storytelling, focusing on The Lone Ranger's origin, the films segues into a series of action sequences including chases and fights aboard or on top of a speeding railroad train that puts the lives of The Lone Ranger and Tonto in danger.

This is a perfect case where being bombarded with one action sequence after another doesn't equate to bigger and better. With the film clocking in at over two and a half hours, I was anxious for this chaotic mess that attempts to blend slapstick with violence and over the top action to come to a conclusion.  By the time “The William Tell Overture” is played and Reid accepts his destiny, I had long lost my interest.

Eventually, we get to hear The Lone Ranger exclaim the iconic, “Hi ho Silver”, aboard his faithful, smart horse. Unfortunately, kemosabe, ho hum would be more telling.

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