A lot of controversy surrounded The Lone Ranger when casting was announced, since Johnny Depp is in no way Native American. There are many people who grew up watching The Lone Ranger on TV or listening to its radio show, which actually started in Detroit, too; I am not one of those people, so I went into the movie with an open mind. The film is filled with intense action sequences as well as a good dose of humor, and it kept my attention throughout its (admittedly, rather long) two and a half-hour runtime.
John Reid (Armie Hammer) returns to his small town, and his brother, Dan (James Badge Dale), invites him to ride with him and the other Texas Rangers to try to find and capture the outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner). Cavendish and his gang end up (semi-spoiler) murdering all of the Rangers, but what he didn’t know is that John wasn’t actually killed; Tonto (Depp) finds him and is later startled to find that John is awake. John is a “man of the law” but when he finds out who “the law” really is and how corrupt the people running the government are, he decides to “wear the mask,” and he and Tonto go off in search of vengeance on Butch Cavendish.
The movie starts with a little boy at a carnival, wearing a Lone Ranger mask and looking through a museum of sorts, and finds that the “Savage in his native environment” actually talks – it’s what must be a 100+ year old Tonto, and he tells the boy his story. I thought this was an interesting way to frame the film – not entirely needed, but it did give some perspective and lets us see the story through the boy’s eyes. Tonto starts sort of in the middle of the story, with him and John robbing a bank, to which the little boy is understandably confused, since he thought the Lone Ranger and Tonto were “the good guys.”
Depp and Hammer make a great team, both action-wise and comedic, and there’s a host of other characters that work well here too. Helena Bonham Carter plays the madam of a whore house, and it’s a role that’s actually more reserved than what she usually does (Les Mis, Alice in Wonderland, the Harry Potter series) but she definitely owns it. Tom Wilkinson plays a railroad man who has a big secret, and Ruth Wilson plays the wife (and later widow) of John’s brother Dan, and we later find out that she’s always loved John.
Yes, see this film. What I found remarkable is that even though the runtime was so long, if someone asked me today if I’d go see it again, I would definitely say yes. The humor was spot on and the action scenes combined themselves with a great soundtrack, including the William Tell Overture; in this way, the film harkened back to “old time” Westerns, where the bad guy is being chased among a flurry of activity and music composed of strings and brass. Johnny Depp will put all the complainers to shame in his role as Tonto, and Armie Hammer, who I liked in Mirror Mirror and The Social Network, definitely has a bright future ahead of him in film. I hope that there’s a sequel to The Lone Ranger, as well, because I’d like to see Depp/Hammer get the chance to reprise their roles, as the duo worked so well together here.
The Lone Ranger is in theaters today, July 3rd, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 149 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.