The Lone Ranger

Art & Culture

The question to ask of a film like this, which costs way north of $200 million, is what exactly is it for? OK, so it’s designed to make money (at which it is obviously going to fail), but what is the point of it all. It’s a western, with comedy touches, ostensibly, but watching it, I was left with the feeling that it is a idea in search of a purpose, and at two and half hours long, it outstays its welcome by a very large margin.

Unless you’re my age or older (don’t ask), you’re unlikely to remember The Lone Ranger in its original incarnation as a black and white TV series from the late 50s and early 60s. So it is hard to understand why a bunch of studio executives (who are paid large sums of money) should come up with the idea of making a full length big budget movie out of the subject matter. I guess they might just have been desperate to find a vehicle (and possibly a franchise) for Johnny Depp plus POTC director Gore Verbinski, but if this is the best idea they could come up with, then let me apply to take over their jobs.

Because this a long slow turgid lump of a movie that takes forever to get started, and is uncertain in tone throughout. One minute it is a riproaring adventure, before switching into sentimental family mush, plus thwarted romance; from there we go to bloody violence, pseudo-Native American claptrap, and Johnny Depp doing funny accents. Every character is a caricature, every scene takes twice as long as it should do, and even the action sequences are so marinated in CGI and slow motion that they lack any real impact. 

The relationship between John Reed aka The Lone Ranger (though obviously he’s not lone) and Tonto should be the centre of the film, but it is distorted by the fact that Depp is the star, while poor old Armie Hammer is the stooge. So Depp gets to be wacky and kooky and make esoteric and incomprehensible utterances, while Hammer plays innocent and dumb. Where’s the fun in that?

It’s easy to be wise in retrospect and say that this was never going to work, but I think I could have been wise in prospect and told them not to waste their money – in the unlikely event of anyone asking me. So what we have is a long slow, dull and silly film which will go down with Wild Wild West as a gigantic waste of money which failed to provide a tenth of the entertainment value of films that one hundredth of its budget.


Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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