Making a western is trickier than it looks. Treat the genre with respect – as John Ford, Sam Peckinpah and even Quentin Tarantino found – and the Wild West can be one of cinema’s most unpredictable and exciting landscapes. But take it lightly, and all you’re left with is a bunch of silly hats, sweaty horses and tired old matinee clichés. For the majority of its totally unnecessary 149-minute running time, ‘The Lone Ranger’ is a prime example of how not to go west: it’s predictable, derivative and at times quite spectacularly boring.
Johnny Depp plays Tonto, now an old man reminiscing about his days with the titular lawman, played by six-foot personality vacuum Armie Hammer. Tonto rescues the Ranger from certain death at the hands of potentially supernatural villain Butch Cavendish (an underused William Fichtner), and together they ride for revenge.
‘The Lone Ranger’ is by no means a total disaster. Depp’s Tonto may sail close to racial caricature, but his performance is enjoyably robust and deadpan. More notably, the film is bookended by a pair of absolutely crackling runaway train action sequences, arguably director Gore Verbinski’s best since ‘Mousehunt’.
But it’s nowhere near enough to sustain us through the slow patches. With no trace of the freshness and wit Verbinski and Depp brought to the swashbuckler in their original ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, ‘The Lone Ranger’ is content to simply pull another western trope out of the bag – the honky-tonk whorehouse, the ranch raid, the cavalry charge – give it a CGI spit-and-polish, and chuck it in the general direction of the audience. The result is frustrating, lazy and lifeless.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio|