About 75% of The Lone Ranger is immensely enjoyable and everything you’d want in a Summer blockbuster. It’s just unfortunate that 25% of it doesn’t reach the heights that director Gore Verbinski hits preceding and after the saggy middle portion of his film.
Let’s get the cons out of the way, because I’d much rather remember The Lone Ranger for its amiable feats.
After some hard-hitting fights and likeable introductions to a pre-Lone Ranger John Reid (played by Armie Hammer) and his inevitable partner Tonto (played by Johnny Depp), the story really starts to kick into gear. The film follows suit to other recent live-action Disney films where in order to add depth to characters or a storyline, the actors and the triumphant director must drop whatever enthusiasm they had and proceed to hit the same monotone note in both their deliveries and in these duller parts of the screenplay- written by Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, and Terry Rossio.
I hope in the future, Disney can figure out a way to deliver the mechanics of a story without feeling as if they need to put entertainment on the back burner. They haven’t had a problem with this in their animated features. Whenever we need to know the villain’s main objective or find out our hero has been hiding a secret all along, it never feels as if the energy slows down.
For some odd reason, the transition from action to exposition in these live-action features is very apparent. As a moviegoer, I felt that this clunky shift was unfair, because of how much fun was being had beforehand. But, to quote a phrase and a rollicking Queens of the Stone Age song, “first it giveth, then it taketh away,” I suppose.
The other problem I had with The Lone Ranger is how relentlessly violent it is. Say what you want about its PG-13 rating and how audiences are fully warned before entering the theatre, but even this type of bloody combat (yes, I said “bloody” and am almost inclined to say “gory”) is pushing the limits of what’s appropriate.
Families wanting to please their young ones with an old thyme western starring everyone’s favourite Johnny Depp need to think twice before attending a screening of The Lone Ranger. If you think your child can handle the blazing guns, have fun! But, even they might be caught off guard by how much blood is spilled, coughed, and pulled out from someone’s body.
Now, for the pros. Verbinski, who wowed audiences with his Academy Award winner Rango, is able to apply those tones that made his previous rambunctious western nail-biting with a hint of the director’s quirky, off-kilter sense of humour. The Lone Ranger knows how to set up big action pieces and Verbinski is a master at knowing how a choreographed fight should look on camera as well as know where his cameras should be placed. The incredible climax aboard duelling locomotives while Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell Overture plays is a perfect example of what Verbinski and his team are capable of doing.
Johnny Depp is doing what he does best – immersing himself within the part while nailing his split personality of straight man and oddball. Depp is too familiar of a face that we still recognize him under all that chalky make-up, but he wins us over anyways.
Hammer is more than a sufficient lead. He makes a solid leading hero as he plays on the zero to hero character arc we’re all accustomed to. His comedic chops are progressively getting better too – then again, anywhere is up compared to his hammy turn as the dashing prince in the howlingly bad Mirror, Mirror. But, he’s showing confidence and growth as a mainstream actor which will also make audiences accept his portrayal of the Lone Ranger gracefully.
There’s an obligatory bizarro role given, of course, to Helena Bonham Carter who is good, but is also taking notes out of Rose McGowan’s book when it comes to playing sultry people with a weapon for a leg. Even Stephen Root, William Fichtner, and Berry Pepper show up and give memorable performances as well.
If you’re used to the usual Disney live-action format and it hasn’t bothered you yet, The Lone Ranger is certainly going to deliver. If you’re like me and you feel the movie sagging in spots that are more talky than usual, just remember, a stick of dynamite will inevitably talk as well. And when it does, The Lone Ranger is off to the races and will have you bouncing up and down in your seat with excitement.