The Lone Ranger, directed by Gore Verbinski (Rango, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), is an update of the character that first appeared in 1933 on a Detroit radio show. Unfortunately, by casting Johnny Depp in this film and allowing him carte blanche with his character of Tonto, Verbinski created a disjointed mess that is better, i.e.more entertaining, than it is given credit for. In ten to twenty years, it will be looked on as a cult hit, with people claiming that it was misunderstood. I have to agree with the future people, even though the Johnny Depp crazy has run it’s course and did not fit with the overall tone of the film.
John Reid, the lawyer brother of Texas Ranager Dan Reid (James Badge Dale), joins his brother in an attempt to capture outlaw Butch Cavendish. When they are sold out by one of their own, the entire group is ambushed and slaughtered by Cavendish. Left for dead, John is found by Tonto, who revives him and recruits him in his hunt for the ‘wendigo’ Butch Cavendish. The convoluted story then incorporates the railroad, silver, Comanches being framed to start a war, a prostitute with a leg made of ivory that hides a gun, and John Reid and Tonto stumbling from one action scene to the next, each one more elaborate than the next. Let’s not forget Reid’s horse, Silver, who manages to save them from a burning building by somehow being on the roof, and stands on a tree branch while wearing Reid’s white ten gallon hat.
Yes, this movie is silly. Sometimes. It really is a disjointed mess of a film, at times deadly serious and very dark, then at other times it is borderline slapstick comedy. It can never quite figure out what it wants to be, and as such doesn’t succeed at being a successful reboot of a classic character. In fact, it seems to have attempted to piss all over the character and everything he stood for in the classic serials. Despite that, though, I found myself enjoying the film, despite my brain screaming at me to turn it off and tear it apart in this review.
The Pirates of the Caribbean films and this film prove that Gore Verbinski is doing what I have seen coming for years. He is attempting to carve out a niche that is currently only inhabited by Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam. He is trying to make big budget films with strange characters and worlds. While Tim Burton has been somewhat successful with this, as has Terry Gilliam, Verbinski comes across as a second rate hack trying to shoehorn in on their success. What is shocking to me, though, is that Verbinski’s films manage to almost always be blockbusters while Burton is hit or miss and Gilliam is still waiting for a his first since 12 Monkeys.
This strange that Verbinski is trying to accomplish has allowed this films greatest sin, which is giving Johnny Depp carte blanche with Tonto. While he is entertaining at times, he portrayal in this film does not fit with everything else going on. On the other hand, Armie Hammer does an admirable job playing John Reid, a lawyer who is thrust into being a lawman.
Despite all of the problems with the film, I found myself enjoying it. Trust me, I am as shocked by that as everyone else reading this review. Once I shut off my brain and just went with it, I had fun with it. Sure, it is silly as hell but it is a lot of fun. In fact, I actually think this is the first film of Verbinski’s that I can actually admit that I liked. Yes, they disrespect the characters of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, but what else would you expect in our cynical age?
**1/2 out of ****
BIZZAM!! Fun Facts!
- Production Budget: $215m. Domestic Gross: $89,302, 115. Total Gross: $260,502,115.
- This is the first film not directed by Tim Burton to feature both Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.
- From IMDB, we have this statement that I agree with after watching the film:
Gore Verbinski, Jerry Bruckheimer, Armie Hammer, and Johnny Depp highly criticized the American critics for their reviews on The Lone Ranger (2013), which they claim that they have criticized the film by its budget, production issues, and not on the film itself, and that they posted their “reviews” 7-8 months before the film was even released. It was also the similar manner of speaking when compared to John Carter (2012), when critics criticized the film by its similar problems, but not the film itself. Armie Hammer shared a very interesting point on the matter, “If you go back and read the negative reviews, most of them aren’t about the content of the movie, but more what’s behind it. It’s got to the point with American critics where if you’re not as smart as Plato, your stupid. That seems like a sad way to live your life. “While we were making it we knew people were gunning for it. I think it was the popular thing when the movie hit rocky terrain they jumped on the bandwagon to try and bash it. They tried to do the same thing with to World War Z (2013), it didn’t work, the movie was successful. Instead they decided to slit the jugular of our movie.”
- The original radio serials led to a spinoff, The Green Hornet. The character of Britt Reid was the great nephew of The Lone Ranger, John Reid.