You can’t fault Disney for pitching The Lone Ranger as ‘Pirates of the Wild West’. But while you can hold a bright candle to that comparison, Gore Verbinski’s ability to imitate the earnest enjoyment of its source material is what really shines through.
The familiar greed, land confiscation, political corruption, and attempted genocide that come with screen depictions of American Natives vs. The White Man serve as background fodder here. The real story comes with Johnny Depp’s Tonto moulding Armie Hammer’s goody-two-shoes John Reid into the hero he could be – though he would have preferred his brother Dan Reid. It’s all book-ended by an older Tonto retelling the adventure to a young-un – a narrative device that could have been chopped off the two-and-a-half hour running time.
Johnny doesn’t take his Jack Sparrow shtick to new Depp-ths, but Hammer feeds off his antics far better than Orlando Bloom ever did. William Fichtner brings a great cob of corn to his savage outlaw Butch, Helena Bonham Carter is effectively distracting as a dolled-up professional ‘dancer’ and Tom Wilkinson does a good Tom Wilkinson impression. It’s too bad that Luther’s Ruth Wilson is underused as a distressed damsel involved a weird incest-in-law romantic sub-plot.
The constant wackiness of The Lone Ranger seems jarring in this modern age of frowny-faced blockbusters. Yet the cheesy tone acts as momentum to justify the creative absurdity of its finale, a dual train chase that features all manner of stunts that lean towards the right side of ridiculous. The result is an action sequence so vastly joyous that it nudges a three-star film into four-star territory.
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