Sunday, July 07, 2013

The Lone Ranger

Year: 2013
Director: Gore Verbinski
Cast: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Ruth Wilson, James Badge Dale, Barry Pepper, Helena Bonham Carter

Plot: John Reid, a lawyer by profession, puts on a mask and joins forces with a Comanche Indian named Tonto to avenge his brother's death.

Review: I wasn't familiar with The Lone Ranger, it was way before my time, though I have heard of the adventures between him and his trusty partner Tonto. Thus I can't make comparisons of any kind, which means I can judge this film a bit more fairly.

That being said, this adaptation, although quite fun, isn't as entertaining as it could have been. The same team that did Pirates Of the Caribbean chose to make this western much like they did that franchise: by throwing in loads of humour instead of playing it straight. As a result, both Tonto and The Lone Ranger don't seem like real heroes, at least till the film's climax.

Johnny Depp makes Tonto a very eccentric character even when he's serious, kinda like a cross between Jack Sparrow and the Mad Hatter, but it sort of works. Armie Hammer plays John Reid aka The Lone Ranger as a man who is by the book and abhors violence, and not very good at confrontations. It weakens his heroic status somewhat, at least till the final third of the film, but one wishes he got to that point sooner. I don't blame him for this, but the writers for doing so.

The supporting cast fare better. Tom Wilkinson and the ever reliable William Fichtner are the villains here, with the latter being really good in his role. The relatively unknown Ruth Wilson makes a strong case as Rebecca, John's sister in-law whom he has feelings for. James Badge Dale is also solid as John's brother Dan. However Barry Pepper and Helena Bonham Carter are wasted in their roles, especially Carter who plays a brothel owner with an ivory leg (don't ask).

The best parts of the film are the opening and final action sequences, both involving trains. This is where Verbinski is in his element as he throws Hammer and Depp into a thrilling fight with the bad guys, jumping from train to train or car to car. Also worth mentioning is Verbinski's decision to have this story being told by an aged Tonto (the makeup on Depp is pretty good) to a young boy dressed as The Lone Ranger visiting a county fair. It puts a different yet interesting angle on the film.

However, one can't help but wonder if it would be better had they all tried to take themselves more seriously and play it straight. With their approach, they made the film unnecessarily bloated, much like the Pirates sequels (though On Stranger Tides was good).

All in all, The Lone Ranger is fun enough for one watch. I just wished it was better than that. (3.5/5)

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