Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Lone Ranger

The point-of-view of The Lone Ranger may be confusing at the start. We start off in the early thirties at a Wild West show, obviously in San Francisco as you can see the Golden Gate Bridge being constructed in the background. A young boy dressed in western garb complete with mask is eyeing the wild west scenarios when he comes across "The Noble Indian in his Native Habitat." It's Tonto, and, as we look past the hundreds of wrinkles piled on one another, Johnny Depp.

The point of view is that of Tonto, whose presence is a bit hard to define. He's crazy Indian, he's wise man, he's perhaps even our Greek chorus. But as long as we remember he's Johnny Depp -- and, really, who could forget that fact? -- we like him, we laugh when he makes a smirking comment, and we're on his side, completely. It's the Lone Ranger we wonder about, whom we doubt.

The movie flashes backward to the 1860's, to the establishment of the old west, where Indians and White Men had a treaty that we know is soon to be broken. A young lawyer comes out west, comes home, although we never discover why. He sees his brother, who is seemingly 180 degrees from him, a brave lawman, a Ranger. And we see the brother's wife, the former girlfriend of our future Ranger.

The casting is wonderfully done here. You've got a couple of villains present in Tom Wilkinson as a railroad man and William Fichtner as Butch Cavendish, an old west criminal if ever there was one. Other parts, although well cast, have nowhere really to go (Helena Bonham Carter, you don't have to be in every movie, you know), but that is so true of the film as a whole.

The writing is an abomination. The screenwriters, the story writers, should all be tied to the tracks and left for the train to devour. It's the end of the movie before we really meet the Lone Ranger, where Silver rears up and you hear, "Hiyo, Silver, away!"  It's most of the movie before you can figure out what's going on. However, there are two good action sequences, both involving trains. And runaway trains. If you like trains, you might actually like part of this movie. The rest of it, well, sleep until you hear the woo-woo.

I really like Armie Hammer, and will probably see anything he's in. He does his earnest best here, but his earnestness can't save this movie. Neither can a somewhat, sometimes funny Johnny Depp, although he is certainly a character to behold in a long list of Depp characters.  But again, not enough. Surely, those old stories of western heroes could have provided better storylines. I guess when you're dealing with an origin story, you'll usually find yourself mired in mud.

Pass on this one. Thumb's down.


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