It’s a wonder why a character with such a storied past has taken so long to be given big budget, big screen treatment. The Lone Ranger has been an iconic American character that has graced radio, comics, television, books, and yes the movie screen, but never in such an expensive form.
The “Pirates of the Caribbean” team of Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski attempted to strike gold once more with the man in the mask. They did manage to strike silver.
That wasn’t meant to be clever. It really means it’s a decent film.
The story of the legendary hero is related to us through the aged eyes of a wizened Tonto (Johnny Depp “Pirates of the Caribbean” tetralogy). The ailing Comanche recounts the tale of a young lawyer named John Reid (Armie Hammer “Mirror Mirror”) returning to his home territory to be reunited with his Texas Ranger brother Dan. Traveling on the same train with him is Tonto and a cannibalistic killer called Butch Cavendish (“The Dark Knight”)—both of whom are awaiting the hangman’s rope. Cavendish escapes and Dan deputizes his younger brother who then joins the posse to hunt down Cavendish. The posse is ambushed and John survives to become the man in the white hat so many of us grew up with.
Although “The Lone Ranger” may not have the outright appeal of the “Pirates” movies, it still retains a nostalgic whimsy and there is no denying the feeling of childhood returning when the familiar strains of Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” fill the air.
The story itself is solid, maintaining, as it does, much of the original tale; and the decision to play it out via Tonto’s retelling adds an unexpected emotional depth. Indeed Verbinski cannot allow his audience to leave the theater without a final punch to the emotional breadbasket.
Armie Hammer plays the naïve, wide-eyed John Reid as if he were simply playing himself while Johnny Depp performs up to his usual caliber. As expected, the latter’s humorous depiction of the Comanche sidekick—who treats the Lone Ranger more like his sidekick—carries the picture and keeps the flavor light throughout an otherwise seriously dark and horrifying story.
Dig in your spurs and shout “hi-yo” to your trusty steed, because “The Lone Ranger” is a decent ride worth saddling up for.
Ammo Dump rating: 6 out of 10 silver bullets
(Rated PG; 143 min.)
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