Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger (2013)


(director: Gore Verbinski; screenwriters: Justin Haythe/Ted Elliott/Terry Rossio; cinematographer: Bojan Bazelli; editors: Craig Wood/James Haygood; music: Hans Zimmer; cast: Johnny Depp (Tonto), Armie Hammer (John Reid, a k a the Lone Ranger), Tom Wilkinson (Latham Cole), William Fichtner (Butch Cavendish), Barry Pepper (Capt. Fuller), James Badge Dale (Dan Reid), Ruth Wilson (Rebecca Reid), Helena Bonham Carter (Red Harrington), Saginaw Grant (Chief Big Bear); Runtime: 149; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Jerry Bruckheimer/Gore Verbinski; Walt Disney Pictures; 2013)
The Lone Ranger is so lame and unlikable, it’s almost impossible to root for him.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The big budget $215 million Disney film is humorless (desperately tries to get a laugh from the soon to be Lone Ranger dragged through horse manure), derivative, contrived to be a bloodbath pic and cruel in the way it debunks a virtuous stalwart American hero into a clueless square and a clod. If there was pioneer justice, those who made this awful pic would be punished by getting a bad box office. The untold Lone Ranger story is told through the recollections of an elderly Tonto (Johnny Depp) in this twisted update of the franchise produced by schlock producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who never could resist getting his paws on vulgarizing a pic for the sake of the bottom-line. In this inane, bloated and vexing version, it is Tonto who stars and the Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer) who plays second fiddle. The Lone Ranger is so lame and unlikable, it’s almost impossible to root for him. In this version, Tonto must care about the Lone Ranger’s pursuit of white man’s justice while the arrogant Lone Ranger doesn’t give a shit about the fate of his Indian sidekick.

It has educated city boy DA John Reid (William Fichtner) returning to his hometown rural Texas railroad city, and going out with a posse to hunt down vicious railroad robbers and prison breakers. After John’s Texas Ranger brother Dan (James Badge Dale) and the other six rangers are ambushed by the pervert gang led by the cannibalistic Butch Cavendish (Barry Pepper) and left for dead, the loner spirit-warrior Cheyenne, with full white face paint, named Tonto, comes along and discovers that John Reid can’t die because he’s a spirit returned from the dead. Tonto teams with the one he adorns with a mask and renames the Lone Ranger. Their ridiculous adventure story has them tracking down Butch and his gang, John rescuing his brother’s widow (Ruth Wilson) and her son from being kidnapped by the gang, and exposing railroad tycoon boss Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson) as an evil and greedy man responsible for inciting the war with the Cheyenne and stealing the Cheyenne silver to gain control of the railroad.

Middling director Gore Verbinski(“Rango”/”The Mexican”/”Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest“) shoots the Western as if it were another Pirates of the Caribbean episode and the team of inept writers Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio make things overly violent and confusing as far as the myth goes. The Lone Ranger myth started on radio, then as a movie cliff-hanger serial and had a long-run on TV. The story gets increasingly grating the more it tries for contrived entertainment and to re-invent the legend in its own small-minded debunking way. It has taken a well-liked and respected family favorite hero and made him into a hapless cartoon character, and pats itself on the back for at least including the William Tell Overture.

I have no idea what Helena Bonham Carter is doing in this flick, but she appears briefly in two scenes as a red-headed madame with a gun embedded in her tattooed peg leg.