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The Lone Ranger - Review

The Lone Ranger

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

ADMIRABLE in intent yet clumsy in execution, The Lone Ranger is a massively disappointing return from the creative trio behind Pirates of The Caribbean.

In reviving the iconic Western figure, made famous by the classic William Tell Overture score and the popular TV series (starring Clayton Moore), it’s clear that star Johnny Depp, director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer were attempting to recapture the magic of their Pirates venture, while paying homage to the grand traditions of the Hollywood Western complete with revisionist and subversive spins.

And to be fair, there is pleasure to be found in the film’s stunning use of location (Monument Valley especially) and it’s devotion to doing as much as possible for real as opposed to using CGI. Indeed, the film feels most alive during its extravagant set pieces, which include two prolonged train sequences.

But there’s no escaping the problems that occupy the spaces in between, whether it’s the plodding nature of the storytelling or the wildly uneven tone.

The plot is an origins one, book-ended by Native American Indian Tonto recalling how honest lawman John Reid (Armie Hammer) came to be the masked Lone Ranger with said Tonto as his trusty ally.

The ensuing tale incorporates crooked businessmen (led by Tom Wilkinson), a clef palette villain (William Fichtner) and a potential love interest (Ruth Wilson), set against the backdrop of progress and its decimating effect upon the Indians.

Yet while there’s undeniably plenty going on, the journey feels frequently arduous, especially since all of the characters require a lot more work to make them more interesting.

Depp, in particular, feels like he’s coasting on past eccentricities (even though this is a passion project for him), while his chemistry with the overly earnest Hammer lacks something. Fichtner isn’t given the screen-time he deserves either, while Wilkinson and Helena Bonham Carter are virtually anonymous for lengthy periods. Wilson’s love interest barely registers either.

Then there’s the tone, which offers scenes of cannibalism or Indian massacre one minute and absurdist humour the next. It has a jarring effect.

The length, too, is woefully self-indulgent at two and a half hours, while the nods (some of them admittedly well observed) to other genre favourites merely succeed in highlighting this particular film’s flaws.

The overall result is a film that you may well want to like more than you actually do, which makes its failure to overcome said problems all the more unforgivable.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 149mins
UK Release Date: August 9, 2013