The Lone Ranger [Review]
If I could describe this film with one word I would be an awesome linguist, but I cannot, and I am not. I can say, honestly, I feel very conflicted about this film. On one hand I really enjoyed it, on the other I felt patronized and like I was the wrong audience. I’m not entirely sure who the target audience is. Which seems appropriate that I am as confused as this film seems to be. Before I get in too deep, I must say I enjoyed this film. It was the fun and lightheartedness of a 1950’s western with the spectacle of a 2010’s action/comedy/drama/western/thing. I have promised myself that I will not compare this film to other Disney/Bruckheimer films starring Johnny Depp, no matter how appropriate. They do share the same writers, and director, and producer, and star. What I will say, in comparison, if you enjoyed those movies, you will most likely enjoy this one.
Let me get the bad out of the way. First, this movie is long, 2.5 hours, and you can feel it. Second, the lighthearted humor is over the top to the point it feels a little patronizing. Third, I honestly can’t tell if there was an honest attempt at social commentary about the treatment of Native Americans’ or if they were simply comic relief and a plot device. That’s about it, unless I get really nitpicky and nerd out about historical and geographic inaccuracies, which actually bothered me a lot, but I can let that go. Those were careless mistakes that don’t affect the movie, but it took me out of the story and reduced my overall enjoyment.
The performances were all delivered well, some more than others. William Fichtner, who plays the primary antagonist Butch Cavendish, delivered the best performance. He was ominous, interesting, and positively owned the screen.
Johnny Depp’s performance was good, while not all together outstanding. Highly entertaining to watch, as usual, but there were far too many similarities to other notable characters he has recently portrayed to avoid widespread comparison, which I already promised I would not do. As a performance goes, it was shy of a home run, a close triple.
Armie Hammer played John Reid strait and flat. Any memorable or enjoyable moments were snuffed out and kept to an underlying smolder. It was not evident if this was a performance or a direction choice, but I believe whoever made that decision made the wrong choice.
As far as story and plot is concerned, it’s standard fare, especially for a western, let alone a lone ranger story. If you are looking for a genuinely original story you won’t find it here, but you will find a good, if not rehashed, narrative. I should clarify that a little. This is a mostly true to the source material retelling of The Lone Ranger. Like a classic car rebuilt with newly engineered replica parts, with a few modern additions and substitutions. This shining star keeps this film from falling apart, and keeps things fun. Some may criticize the use of the William Tell Overture, but I am not one of them, I loved it. However, the “classic” elements suffer from overuse in a very heavy-handed way. If you take these lighthearted elements and magnify them for comedic effect, you risk turning an action packed adventure into a Keystone Cops misadventure. Fortunately, when you fire over a thousand rounds you can afford a few misfires. For the moments that were not misfires, the comedic timing and elements were extraordinary. The same could be said for the action sequences, when they are good they’re great, when they fall flat, at least there is another in five minutes. Moreover, when the comedy and action fail, there is the magnificent majesty of the landscape to enjoy.
A small parental advisory, this film does contain a very high level of violence, both direct on screen violence and implied off-screen violence. Overall, it’s difficult to form, or relate a fully formed opinion about a film that itself feels less than fully formed. Just about anyone can find at least an hour’s worth of enjoyable content within this 2.5-hour film. It’s an action western, it’s a comedy western, and it’s a poignant dramatic western, it’s The Lone Ranger, four films in one big package. Each film in this analogy would be excellent on its own, but together, they weigh each other down and we are left with a film that feels as though it is in desperate want of an editor, but.
3.5 out of 5, I took away half a star for the rabbits. I don’t know what they were thinking, but those are no ordinary rabbits.