Review: THE LONE RANGER (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Review: THE LONE RANGER (2013)

 Justice, my ass, Tonto.
THE LONE RANGER is a big-budget misfire suffered from dull script, exhausting length and Armie Hammer's bland performance -- with Johnny Depp's typically eccentric performance, William Tell Overture and the elaborate train sequence in the finale being the only saving grace.

The last time a movie studio had ever attempted to make a feature-length version of the once-iconic Lone Ranger series was THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER back in 1981. The movie was so poorly received at the box office that it took over 32 years for producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Walt Disney Pictures to finally dust off the long-forgotten franchise and attempts to re-introduce THE LONE RANGER to a new generation of today's moviegoers. At the first glance, THE LONE RANGER seems to be in good hands, especially it was created by the same team who made the hugely-popular PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN franchise. Unfortunately, the development behind the making of THE LONE RANGER was notoriously plagued with budget overruns, script rewrites (which was originally to be included with supernatural tone), and release date reshuffles (which was originally slated for December 21, 2012 but ultimately delayed to May 31, 2013 before finally settling down on the Fourth of July holiday weekend). Such troubling production often spells nothing but bad sign for a movie like that. And not surprisingly, THE LONE RANGER turns out to be a bloated mess after all.


Set in 1869, THE LONE RANGER begins with John Reid (Armie Hammer), an educated lawyer who believes strongly in justice but particularly against gun and violence, heads to the dusty Texas town of Colby on a train to see his older brother Dan (James Badge Dale). But at the same time, the train also carries a violent, wanted criminal named Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) who is being brought back by the local magnate Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson) so that he can be publicly hanged in order to assure his townsfolk that Colby is in the good hands. Also on the train is a mystical Comanche warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp), whom we later learn he's actually been banished by his own tribe and now his mind is filled with revenge because of something terrible happened from his past. Things get messy from there when Butch manages to escape from the train with the help of his gang. But Dan and the rest of his Texas Rangers waste no time to track down Butch and his gang at all cost. John, on the other hand, gets promoted to Texas Ranger but refuses to carry a gun whatsoever. Unfortunately they end up being ambushed and massacred by Butch and his gang. Miraculously, John survives the gunshot wound and is subsequently rescued by Tonto, who informs him that he is now a "spirit warrior" who can't be killed in a battle. And in order to stay "dead", John must wears a mask. They eventually work together to avenge his brother's death and bring Butch to justice.

As Tonto, Johnny Depp is perfectly typecast for this kind of eccentric role. His trademark deadpan performance here is put into good use, especially in the part when he tries to communicate with the white horse. On the technical fronts, THE LONE RANGER is blessed with Bojan Bazelli's majestic cinematography and Hans Zimmer's rousing score.

THE LONE RANGER particularly comes alive once the iconic "William Tell Overture" is played during the well-choreographed, elaborate train sequence in the climactic finale.

At an estimated cost of $250 million to make, THE LONE RANGER is certainly very expensive for a Western movie. But despite  the huge budget, there's really nothing much to show in this movie. The action is too little (with only two major action set-pieces -- all involved trains -- occurred at the opening and final sequence), the 149-minute length is painfully overlong, and the script (written by Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio) is unnecessarily overstuffed with too many subplots and unnecessary characters (for instance, the thankless appearance of Helena Bonham Carter as Red Harrington) that frequently wanders off the course until they lose focus on everything. If that's not insulting enough, the movie's shifting tones between being serious and humorous are terribly awkward most of the time. As for the cast, Armie Hammer proves to be such a bland lead as the titular character who looks hopelessly lost and clueless at the same time. To make things even worse, he and Johnny Depp shared zero chemistry together. The rest of the supporting cast are just as forgettable, even for seasoned veterans like Tom Wilkinson and William Fichtner who are all typecast here as bad guys.

Say, white horsey... how about I stuck your head with a buffalo horn?

THE LONE RANGER could have been better if director Gore Verbinski and his screenwriters know a thing or two about restraint. It was so obvious that they tries so hard to shape this big-budget Western in the mould of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN-like structure, whereas a simple and fast-paced Western movie is already more than enough to entertain the die-hard fans and the masses. What a missed opportunity.

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